Involving service users, in the delivery of health and social care, is a focal point in social policy discourse. Coproduction has become synonymous with anti-oppressive practice and service user empowerment. This article reports on a qualitative study carried out in Northern Ireland which explored service user involvement in adult social care practice and policy development. Semi-structured interviews were completed with service users (n = 6) and social workers (n = 7); thematic analysis was applied to the resultant data. The study was coproduced with service users who informed the research design and were actively involved throughout each phase of the study. Findings suggest that service users are motivated to participate in coproduction and can feel valued in these roles, but meaningful coproduction is a challenge in the current practice environment. Close working relationships, with clear and consistent communication are difficult to maintain amid the current trend of bureaucratisation in our profession. Findings point toward the need for a service-user/social worker alliance which can challenge problematic organisational cultures. Remuneration for service users, engaged in coproduction, is encouraged, alongside organisational recognition of the time and resource necessary for effective coproduction. A procedural and ethical framework for coproduction practices would also be timely.
- social work
- social care