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Getting the standards of social care we expect

Ensuring people are at the heart of the care they receive is now recognised as crucial for effective and supportive social care services.

Research at Brunel has been central to refining the way that this person-centred approach is integrated into UK social care and policy.

For the past two decades, this research has been led by Professor Peter Beresford, Director of Brunel's Centre for Citizen Participation and a recognised champion of person-centred care.

The foundation of this work was Beresford and Harding’s late '90s paper, 'The Standards We Expect: what service users and carers want from social services workers', which kick-started a drive to find out how social care services could meet the aspirations of people who used them.

In collaboration with others, Prof Beresford has developed his research, looking at what person centred support means to people who use, work in and manage services - and what factors affect its implementation. His results complemented a Government initiative to introduce personalisation as the way forward for social care, which needed evidence to support decisions on how it should be introduced.

Involving service users at each stage, this research found areas of agreement on the principle of introducing person centred care and on how it should be delivered. But it uncovered two important barriers which needed to be addressed by government; an institutional and antagonistic culture which had to be changed, and inadequate funding. These results formed the basis of a widespread debate, involving key consultation groups, strategy boards and user groups, supplemented by coverage in the media.