Changing organisational culture: another role for self-advocacy?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


– Improvements in organisational culture are a common recommendation of enquiries into system failure and an aspiration of policy. The purpose of this paper is to explore an initiative to change culture in a low-secure service through the introduction of a self-advocacy group.

– An independent evaluation was carried out by a university research team. A theory-based methodology was deployed with qualitative data gathered through observations, interviews and focus groups.

– Culture change was reported by senior managers and clinicians in relation to the transparency of the service, decision making regarding resources, and engagement of patients in redesign. Self-advocacy group members reported a different relationship with senior management which in turn enabled greater influence in the organisation. Achieving these impacts relied on independent and skilled external facilitation, support from senior managers, and a calm and democratic atmosphere in the meetings. Ward staff were kept at an arms-length from the group and were less certain that it had made any difference to the way in which the ward operated.

Research limitations/implications
– The research was only based in one organisation and the impacts of the initiative may vary with a different local context. Research in a wider sample of organisations and culture change initiatives will provide greater insights.

Practical implications
– Self-advocacy groups can lead to organisation culture change alongside benefits for individual group members but require funding, external and independent facilitation, and organisational endorsement and support.

– This paper adds to the limited literature regarding culture change in secure services and services for people with a learning disability in general and also to the understanding of the impact of self-advocacy groups.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-76
JournalTizard Learning Disability Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2015


  • culture
  • organizational change
  • learning disability
  • culture change
  • low-secure services
  • self-advocacy


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