This Strategy is for the people who use Social Care Services ( SCS ), their Carers and our staff who support them.
Social Care services have a long tradition of partnership working with service users and carers. This strategy aims to build on our previous work and to help us to develop a more consistent approach to continuing involvement.
Involving service users and carers is not new. However in recent years there has been lots of legislation and guidance produced to make sure local authorities and their partners consult, involve and engage with the people who live locally. See Appendix 1 of the document for more information about the Government legislation and Guidance which says we must get better at involving users and carers. There are also national priorities for agencies who work with us - they are called our ‘partners’ and include agencies like the Acute Health Trust, the Primary Care Trust, the Mental Health Trust, Voluntary sector organisations and Community groups.
Gateshead Council has a lot of good policies and guidelines that refer to consulting, involving and engaging with services users, carers and local communities. This Involvement Strategy builds on some of the principles within these. Some of the Council policies that specifically make reference to involving people can be found in Appendix 2 of the document.
The Community Liaison Team, located within Gateshead Council has also facilitated Conferences for Users & Carers of Social & Health services in 1998 and 1999. During 2003 an Involvement Forum was established of workers mainly located within the voluntary sector representing over 200 users and carers. The Involvement Forum believes that ongoing involvement will help social care to deliver and commission the highest quality services that are based on the needs of individual users and those of the whole community. They also identified priority areas where they feel other areas of involvement should be tackled. We aim for continuing involvement to become an intrinsic part of the working culture.
Input from current and previous service users and carers and information drawn from other Council and national strategies have resulted in this Involvement Strategy.