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The Role of Service User Preferences and User-Centered Approaches in Adult Social Care  

Helen Dickinson and Robin Miller

In recent years we have seen growing interest in a range of countries around how service user preferences can be accommodated in adult social care and how these services might be oriented to be more user-centered. There is a diverse array of different initiatives that might be classified as creating more user-centered approaches. Those at the strategic (macro) and organizational (meso) levels typically have greater amounts of evidence available than those at the individual (micro) level. However, many of these struggle to significantly disrupt power relations and clearly demonstrate an impact on service users. Those at the micro level more readily demonstrate impact, although the very local nature of these interventions means that they are not always well evaluated, and lessons may not be easy to transfer from one context to another. Overall, there is no system that has managed to reorient its adult social care system in a wholesale way; this is an issue that requires both technical and cultural change. Such changes take time to achieve, but there is much that can be learned from the existing evidence base.