Challenging power dynamics between service providers and service users via Personal Budgets
Blog post by Graham R. Williamson
Previous research points to the importance of supporting mental-health service users to help them improve their self managing capabilities. Thus, their capacity to manage the physical, emotional and social impacts of illness in everyday life is strengthened. From such a perspective, Personal Budgets are a key empowering philosophy, the ambition of which is to support independent living, social inclusion and opportunities for recovery among mental health service users. Other studies show that introducing Personal Budgets can shift the balance of power towards the recipient, giving people a greater role in assessing their own needs and making choices regarding services; this challenges power dynamics between professionals and service-users. This paper describes a truly participative Action Research (AR) process where service users, career and recovery coordinators jointly influenced the development and implementation of Direct Payments to mental health service users in an English Health and Social Care Trust. We are provided with a detailed and in-depth description of the process. I believe that lessons learned should be of great value to the AR community and particularly to other action researchers and service innovators who are talking on similar challenges in other contexts.
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