The project analyses how different discourses influence user participation among three groups of service users (elderly people, persons with mental health problems and disabled people). The project examines in what ways the goals of user participation are expressed in the national policy documents and how the municipalities attempt to implement the goals through their design and the organising of services for the three groups. Further, the project examines if and how the three user groups experience user participation. A hypothesis is that different user discourses form a basis for the policy for the three target groups and that this has consequences for the implementation and organisation of measures and services.
A discourse analysis of policy documents from the last 40 years to see how user participation is treated in the documents over time and between the target groups is accomplished. The empirical studies where the implementation of user participation in the municipalities was examined was worked out in autumn 2015 and in 2016. In five municipalities, individual interviews were done with the leaders of the health and care sector, and focus groups interviews with the leaders of the service areas for the three groups. In two of these municipalities one of the researchers did week-long observations of the interaction between the staff and the users in services for the three target groups, and focus group interviews were done with the employees and representatives of the municipal user councils.
An important part of the project is to involve persons with experiences as service users in the research. A user panel with representatives for the national user organisations for the three target groups is established. From these organisations seven persons with experience as service users are recruited as co-researchers. They take active part in the development of interview guides, as interviewers and in the analysis and dissemination of results from the project. A separate study of the experiences with the cooperation between the researchers and the co-researchers is accomplished.
The project has its own home page with a link to published results from the project: https://www.inn.no/prosjektsider/making-user-participation-work-from-policy-to-practice
During the last decades user participation has developed from being a radical term to becoming a well-established part of the health and social care system. However, the implementation of this policy and legislation is not unambiguous, but are framed with in different welfare policy discourses with different implications for policy and welfare practice. By including different groups of service users (elderly people, persons with mental health problems and disabled people) as well as different user particip ation discourses attracted by and developed for different user groups, the project intends to present a
comprehensive contribution to the discussion of how to create more holistic and democratic services. The project is built around three modules focusin g on different questions,but still closely intertwined with the empirical object consisting of municipal welfare services.
1. Policy: How are the interpretations of users and user participation manifested in Norwegian policy documents concerning the three user groups?
2. Organisation and implementation: How do the different discourses for different user groups have implications for the organisation and the implementation of services directed towards them?
3. User participation in practice: 1) How do the e mployees as street level bureaucrats define user participation and what are their opportunities for realising user participation in day to day activities? 2) How do the different user groups perceive their opportunities or restrictions for user participat ion?
The project will use a mixed methods approach like critical discourse analysis, case studies, personal and focus group interviews, observation, vignette methods and institutional ethnography. Representatives for the user groups will take part as co-r eseachers in the different phases of the project.