research in practice for adults kindly asked me to write a contribution to their “Strategic Briefings” series, on the topic of Disabled People’s User-Led Organisations. Below I’ve extracted and amended the section about DPULOs and their unique service deliver. The publication will be available from ripfa’s website soon.
DPULOs are run by and for disabled people and uniquely add value to the services they deliver. They typically have legitimacy and credibility from the perspective of both users and commissioners, and can provide a user-led contribution to all parts of the care and support process.
DPULOs operate on both the supply- (i.e. service delivery / business) and demand- (i.e. user representation / voice) sides. They balance these roles to uniquely add value to the local social care economy (and beyond).
DPULOs come in all shapes and sizes: some can have a long history and be well established in their local area; others can be newly-formed and emerging in response to local circumstances.
What this work looks like
DPULOs can deliver a range of services drawing on the lived experience of users. Such services typically support people to navigate the care and support system, rather than deliver services at the end. The offer of DPULOs can include:
- Information, Advice & Guidance
- Supported self-assessment
- Support planning
- (Non-complex) supported reviews
- PA recruitment and employment support
- Training for employers and employees
- Advocacy services
DPULOs are increasingly delivering services that people can purchase with their Personal Budget too, including:
- Domiciliary care and support
- Payroll services
- Equipment services
- Leisure services
DPULOs can also act as hubs for coordinating and managing user-led and wider voluntary and independent sector provision.
Beyond social care, DPULOs also offer a wide range of services, including (but not limited to):
- Welfare / benefits advice
- Training, especially disability equality training
- Access auditing
- Hate crime third party reporting centres
- Alternative format translation.
Evidence of effectiveness
- Choice and control in service delivery is an important aspect of the social care economy – valued both by users and government
- 89% of people in an area who experienced user-led IAG secured a Direct Payment, compared to 13% who used LA-led provision
- POET survey and ODI’s Support, Advocacy and Brokerage project both indicated people who had support from ULOs had better support for navigating the care and support system and that achieved better outcomes
- 100% of people who used independent, user-led support planning service secured a Direct Payment and felt that they had more choice and control, compared to 17% who used LA-led support planning
- Charity Commission reported that 59% of people agree they trust charities more if they are providing services within their local community
- This support is also deliverable in crisis situations – Leeds User-Led Crisis Service in Leeds saves commissioners £28k per year
- Evidence from Right to Control Trailblazers indicates that ULOs can help people to coordinate their care and support across different funding streams. This is partly because ULOs are more nimble in responding to user needs and are able to “join the dots up on the ground” across different (public) bodies.
Options for early, effective action
To make the most out of any local DPULO that exists, below are some effective options that are relatively easy to undertake:
- Assess current provision of different types of support service, especially those that could be provided by a DPULO
- Prioritise where DPULOs can make the most valuable contribution to strategic priorities
- Consider piloting DPULO involvement in specific service development opportunities
- Consider commissioning specifically from local providers only, particularly those in the voluntary sector or with specific expertise (such as DPULOs)
- Consider using Article 19 of the EU Public Contracts Directive to reserve contracts for DPULOs
- Ensure tendering processes are accessible for DPULOs
- Use the agreed principles of the Local Compact to inform commissioning arrangements.