Consultation with service users to inform planned development of an intellectual disability service

Author(s): Dukes, E. and Sweeney, J.

Organisation: Kerry Parents and Friends Association

Keywords: Consultation, Intellectual Disability, Service Development, Inclusive research

Published: Learning Disability Practice - December 2009

(02 Dec 2009)

This is an exploratory study to establish service users’ views regarding their current intellectual disability service and their vision for future service development. Inclusive research is the way forward in terms of best practice since the publication of “Nothing About Us Without Us” (Department of Health UK, 2001b). This set a precedent in the UK and Ireland in establishing a model of consultation that ensures that people who know about using services are able to give their opinion about the future of those services. The objectives of the study were to ascertain service users opinions on the service they currently receive, aspects of the service they wish to see continue and aspects of the service they would like to change.

The study uses a qualitative approach with a non-experimental, exploratory design. Participants were service users of a community based intellectual disability service who volunteered to participate. Data was collected via focus groups with service users of all ability levels. Some participants were supported by a communication partner. The focus groups were conducted in line with a protocol designed specifically for the study. Content analysis was carried out to elicit themes from the data. Ethical issues around conducting research with vulnerable groups were considered. Results were contained in a comprehensive internal report commissioned by the organisation and in a more accessible format for service users. The expected impact of the study is to influence service development within the organisation and within the broader community of intellectual disability services. Conclusion – Through consultation and an emphasis on supporting capacities service providers can learn how people with intellectual disability may experience a meaningful life.

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