User focus groups and Best Value in services for people with learning disabilities


CorrespondencePaul Cambridge Senior Lecturer in Learning Disability Tizard Centre University of Kent Canterbury Kent CT2 7LZ UK


This paper examines the problems and potentials of employing user focus groups as part of an approach to defining and reviewing Best Value in local authority and jointly commissioned services for people with learning disabilities. Drawing on experience from three local authority initiatives and wider experience with Best Value, the paper describes the development of user focus groups for helping review adult placement, outreach and day services for people with learning disabilities. The key methodological considerations for consulting with service users with learning disabilities through focus groups are identified and the interpretation of outcomes considered. The paper concludes with pointers for the effective operation of user focus groups in local authority Best Value reviews of services for people with learning disabilities, of use to practitioners, service managers and commissioners.