Social services, such as care for the elderly, childcare or assistance in
finding employment, help people to access their social rights. Their role is
essential to promote social cohesion.
Social service systems in the Council of Europe member states are not all
equally developed, but they all face similar challenges. The ultimate aim is
to make high-quality, comprehensive social services available to everyone in
all the member states.
Over the last years, one of the key developments in the provision of social
services has been to make them more client-oriented. Social welfare services
have to be adapted to their individual needs. One of the most effective ways
to improve the quality of services is to involve users in their design,
management, implementation and evaluation. User involvement also improves
their autonomy and increases their participation in society as a whole.
Since 2001 a project is concentrating
specifically on user participation in social services.
An intergovernmental group Group of Specialists on User Involvement in
Social Services (CS-US) was set up to examine the best practices of
participation and involvement of users in social services throughout the
European continent and integrated delivery of social services. The group
elaborated a report and policy guidelines
on user involvement in social services. They were launched in the
framework of a Conference on this issue which took place in Warsaw on 14
and 15 June 2007.
Following the completion of the work of the Group, the Council of Europe is involved in
disseminating its outcomes through dissemination activities in several