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Which is it? Client? Victim? Offender? Patient?

March 5, 2019


The global economic difficulties put pressure on public sectors. Co-production can relieve this pressure by engaging the service users in social work services. It would also benefit the service users by putting people and carers in the centre of service delivery (Weaver, 2011, p. 1040). However, the extent of success in empowering service users i.e.: customers, is arguable.


Some of the customers of social services occasionally lack the necessary skills (Beresford & Croft, 1993, p. 67), personal will and ambition (Means, Hoyes, Lart, & Taylor, 1994, p. 23), or sufficient funds to choose the right service for themselves. Subsequently, this task would fall under the duties of the professionals such as medical staff and care managers (Ferguson, 2008, p. 66; Walsh, 1994, pp. 196-197).


Furthermore, giving more freedom to service users in co-producing their needed services increases the insecurity and creates a culture of competition where the ones who can outwit others would be worthy of social services (Bauman, 1988; Davis, 2008, p. 98; Halton, 2009, p. 468). Therefore, one might argue that the introduction of Co-Production has been merely a biased method used to relieve the financial pressures from the public social institutes.


It has furthered the interest of the state at the core, practicing yet another form of power over ‘others’ that would ensure the prevention of ‘unwelcoming things’ by them (Lukes, 2005, p. 65; McLaughlin, 2009, p. 1114; Morriss, 2002, p. 37; Piper, 2005, p. 120).


 However, it should be noted that there is a difference in the proportion of attitudes towards involvement of service users within the public and criminal justice social work services (Weaver, 2011, p. 1040). This difference might be due to the punitive nature of the criminal justice system. However, it also might be due to the terminology that each service provider uses. A specific name for people who use the social services defines the relationship they would have with the carer and the hierarchy of the system they are engaging with.


Labels such as ‘Service user’, ‘Customer’, ‘Client’, or ‘Expert by experience’ does not define the person but the relationship they have with the system. It can therefore, affect the amount of bias and willingness towards involving them into the process of social care (McLaughlin, 2009, pp. 1113-1114).



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