Care industry regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has launched a new scheme, Acting Together, which enables service users to advise on and contribute to its work.

The Acting Together partnership scheme includes involving people as ‘experts by experience’ on inspections of health and social care services and in visits to monitor the use of the Mental Health Act. The first three partners for the scheme are Age UK, Choice Support and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation. Choice Support is leading a consortium of smaller and user-led organisations that includes VoiceAbility, Living Options Devon, Advocacy Alliance Bedford, Skills for People, Advocacy Experience, Inclusion North, and Hersov Associates. Agreements are being finalised with other user-led organisations to work with the CQC and further announcements will be made later in the summer.

Cynthia Bower, chief executive of the CQC, said: “We will be able to tap into people’s hands-on knowledge for example, to help shape our methodologies and communications. We will also involve them in our inspections as experts by experience. “Experts by experience are a vital part of the way that we work and regulate; I can not express how important it is to have a user voice on an inspection or in consultation or workshop.”

Steven Rose, chief executive of Choice Support, said: “We are proud to be working with a number of advocacy and user-led organisations which form the Acting Together Consortium to provide the Care Quality Commission with experts by experience. Listening to and learning from people with experience of receiving a service is one important way of helping ensure that we get things right. I’m delighted that Choice Support’s approach and the approach of our consortium partners, of putting people who receive services at the forefront of monitoring quality has received national recognition from CQC. The contract will create jobs and valued roles for up to fifty disabled people.”

Vivien Cooper, chair of trustees of the Challenging Behaviour Foundation said: “Family carers of individuals with learning disabilities and high support needs have a wealth of experience in understanding the needs of their relatives and recognising good support and services. I am delighted that the Challenging Behaviour Foundation will be working with the CQC, supporting family carers of people with complex needs to influence and improve support and service provision.”