Co-production Week 2017

Co-production Week 2017

Monday, 10 July 2017

Co-production: Walsingham Support

By Dominique Richards, Personalisation Officer at Walsingham Support @walsinghamuk

"Co-production isn’t new – it’s something that organisations, including ourselves, have been practising for a while."

Our Values
Putting people at the heart of everything we do was one of our founding principles. Ensuring the people we support have a voice and the opportunity to shape the support they receive has been central to our ethos from day one.

The Way Forwards
At its core, co-production recognises that everyone, regardless of ability, has unique skills, knowledge and experiences that when pooled together will deliver more effective outcomes.
Co-production doesn’t just benefit those who receive support, it benefits everyone involved.

The Real Difference
Co-production isn’t new – it’s something that organisations, including ourselves, have been practising for a while.

Our personalisation standards and personalisation audit were co-produced with people we support back in 2015 as well as our professional boundaries policy. The policy itself was conceived and led by people we support who consulted staff members and professionals as opposed to the other way around, unique in our sector.

The next step for the social care sector, collectively, is to ensure that co-production is integrated across all policies, practices and processes as standard.

Our Next Steps
To ensure that we continue to push our work around co-production and as part of our commitment to Social Care for Excellence’s Co-production Week (3rd-7th July), we are creating a brand-new co-production working group.

The group will consist of people we support, family members, staff members, professionals and independent advocates and will be officially launched at a one day co-production conference. Led by an independent facilitator, it will ensure each voice is heard and given equal waiting, with each attendee having a decisive role to play in the group.

This conference is just the start as we move away from ‘involvement’, where people we support are just consulted, and head towards a process where the people we support are fully intergrated from start to finish. 

We want a society where people with disabilities have full control over their lives, where their voices are not only listened to, but heard.


*If you would like any more information about co-production and what we are doing to embed it, please contact Dominique Richards, Personalisation Officer Dominique.richards@walsingham.com

Co-production, co-production, co-production

By Gerry Nosowska, Director, Effective Practice


Co-production Week gives me the opportunity to reflect on what co-production means to me and how I can embrace it.

I am far from an expert on co-production. Although my social work training and practice has always emphasised working with people as equals, I am a long way from true co-production. I like to manage situations, I have blind spots about power, and I have habits for how I do thinks which significantly get in the way.

So this blog is not about how to do co-production but instead what I have learned from my small steps about why to do it.

1. It feels right: On the few occasions when I have taken a co-production approach - sitting down with a blank piece of paper and starting with ‘what do we think we should do?’ - it has felt much better than turning up with a plan, a form or an agenda.
2. It teaches me about myself: The times when I have co-produced work, I have been called out on many assumptions I make about who is ‘professional’ and who can do what. It is uncomfortable but I need to hear it.

3. It results in better work: The co-produced projects I have been involved in have all been so much better than anything I or social workers alone could do. The Role of the social worker in end of life, palliative and bereavement care contains stories and language I have no experience of. The Carers website contains case examples and tips for practice that speak straight to me. The Position statement and charter for disabled adults and social workers contains actions that I had not considered.


So for these three reasons, I will keep going with co-production. I have written a commitment for this week. And please, if you are thinking about co-production, do it; if you are doing it, keep going; and if you know how to do it, help us beginners.

Evolve: co-producing how we work with our customers.

By Pia Hansen, Special Projects Manager, Evolve Housing and Support


We are about to launch our new approach to support this summer. Last year we worked with staff and customers to review how the existing approach was going. Customers were happy with the support they receive and at the same time some areas for improvement were identified. Customers wanted a focus on what is strong and positive about them and on their relationship with the wider community, which led naturally into focusing on a more asset-based approach to working.

A working group of staff and customers was set up in late October to jointly create this new approach to support. As a group, we designed the new approach and the paper work, made sure staff and customers could review and feedback at every stage and eventually agreed on what it would look like. The new approach, which focuses on a customer’s wellbeing, their satisfaction with where they live, their community connections and their aspirations, is proving to have a positive effect after the initial pilot. One customer said about his experience of the new support plan: “I have really enjoyed being able to take the time to complete this and I feel like it is mine and something I can work towards. I have liked looking at my strengths…’ .

Customers and staff worked together to review the feedback from the pilot and to make any necessary changes. They also worked together to develop training for staff on how to work with the new approach which is in the process of being delivered. Over 60 staff and customers have been involved in this process with over half of these being our customers. The design, decisions and training work around the new approach have been done in partnership with our customers, and has resulted in a great new way of working for the organisation.

One of our managers said: “Co-production allowed us to test ideas and bring current lived experience to the planning process. This is essential for any new support approach and invaluable to the ethics of design.  By focusing on co-production, we have been able to get all parties to take ownership in its design and delivery and develop it into something that works for all and not something that is just implanted on our clients.”

None of us is smarter than all of us! The hidden meaning of co-production

Clenton Farquharson and Nic Crosby. Clenton Farquharson MBE is chair of the Think Personal Act Local Board. Nic Crosby is Director at GatherBuildWork.net. Both are happy to continue this discussion should you be interested.


We are all people, people with lived experience, experts by experience; we may need support all our life or we’ve all looked after a family member who does, we’ve worried about how they are getting on in hospital, whether people are looking after them properly, many of us have experienced mental health challenges and most if not all know someone close who has…the list goes on.

Real co-production is about building mutually trusting and respectful relationships, where we each listen and value each other contributions, discuss, often disagree, and may be even argue.  We are all people with lived experience and we are, when it comes to taking forward the improvement of support for people, actually working to make the world a better place for ourselves and our own families, relations, friends and local communities.

Yet, there is this great divide between those of us being supported and those of us doing the supporting, where those of us being supported report that although there is a much headlined approach of ‘nothing about us without us’ our experiences are nothing like this.  We, who are doing the supporting seem to forget that we are just the same as those we are supporting, we forget that it might be us or a close family member needing support; we, who are doing the support start to believe that we know best, we start not to listen to what those of us who need support are saying and we start to use complicated and exclusive language which means others can’t understand, can’t take part.

And so, we have this thing called ‘co-production’, a bit of jargon yes but vitally important and essential.  We have to have ‘co-production’, guides to co-production, commitments to co-production and blogs like this one because the relationships between those of us being supported and those of us doing the supporting have to change and have to set ‘nothing about us without us’ not as an aspiration but as the foundation for everyday work and support.

For us both one of the clearest markers about a commitment to real co-production is the language being used. Not just when horse riding becomes ‘equine therapy’ or bouncing on a trampoline ‘rebound therapy’, but in publications, at conferences and in all our work to improve services.  All the energy being put into ‘coproduction’ as part of the work to improve services and support means nothing if the language used is difficult to understand and excludes the very people whose expertise and views should be at the centre.

The more complicated and exclusive the language we use the clearer it is that our commitment to co-production is paper thin and very much tokenistic.  So we, like others are keen to champion a ‘speakeasy[1]’ approach to all that we do, using language that is as inclusive as possible, as easy to understand for the whole community and to challenge language that works against inclusion and taking part.

Using straight-forward language, avoiding jargon and thinking about the words we use is only part of co-production, yet it says so much about how genuinely committed we are. Co-production comes from building trust, trust is a bit like love, both parties have to feel it.  Despite investment, energy and much activity it feels like this two-way trust is not reality for most of us and is a long way off.

So, that favourite ‘3 top tips’ bit:

1.     Make ‘nothing about us without us’ a reality; in your own work and the work of your organisation, involve people who will know best and remember that you are also improving support and care for members of your family and maybe yourself.
2.     Make a personal commitment to ‘speakeasy’.  And, like the both of us, know that in making that you should expect to be challenged about the words and language you use, this is the only way we are going to get better.
3.     If you can make a commitment for your organisation to always ‘speakeasy’.  Discussions, workshops, and meetings should be inclusive and welcoming for anyone and everyone who needs to be there.


[1] Speakeasy is not trademarked or copyrighted.  You are welcome to make a similar commitment and to publicise it, however like us it means you are going to have to get used to being challenged until you get it right!

Co-production in Action in Hampshire

By Robert Droy, Chair of Hampshire Personalisation Expert Panel at SPECTRUM Centre for Independent Living. 

@RobDroy1973  




For me personally, this year will mark 20 years of working on coproduction. Back in 1997, it wasn't actually called coproduction, it was often called user involvement, but the aims and objectives were the same; how to get statutory services to involve people in designing, delivering and evaluating services in a meaningful way rather than just a tokenistic way.

Fresh from graduating university, I had seen first hand the discrimination that many Disabled People face when trying to find employment. Despite the government's ‘two tick’ system, statutory services seemed reluctant to employ Disabled People, let alone give them genuine chance to influence the development of services.

When I finally got a job in the user led movement, I met many of my peers wanted the same things I wanted. I also started to meet staff within the local authority who could see the value that service users could add when developing services. Over the next decade, in Hampshire at least, we were lucky enough to work with the local authority on a number of exciting projects, particularly around Independent Living and empowering Disabled People to have more choice and control over their lives. This resulted in the formation of the Personalisation Expert Panel, a group of service users and carers who work with senior managers in a coproductive relationship on social care reform. I have chaired the PEP for the past 9 years.

Despite the worsening financial situation, in Hampshire we have continued to work closely with the local authority and now with the Clinical Commissioning Groups to ensure that service users’ voices are not only heard but that we are around the table with senior managers when key decisions are being made.

Last Friday, 40 service users, carers and senior managers formed a Transformation Coproduction Board to specifically look at the Transformation plans that are being made for the next 2 years. Senior managers will not only report on what their plans are but also will need to specify where coproduction has or will take place and what effect it has had.

The Board will not replace the existing coproduction groups in Hampshire such as the PEP but will ensure meaningful coproduction remains a priority over the next 2 years and beyond. This is an great example of coproduction in action and how things develop over time. SCIE’s Coproduction Week is an excellent opportunity for all of us to share and learn from others’ examples.

Taking coproduction seriously in Adult Social Care across the East through “Count Me In”

Natasha Burberry, Sector Led Improvement Programme Manager, East of England Adult Social Care



Adult Social Care across the East has held a serious of three workshops during 2016/17 with people who use services, carers, providers and commissioners to create a shared understanding about how people and families can work together to improve local markets.
Here is what Simon Leftley, the East Regional Lead Director for this programme said: 


"We have been committed for some time to empower and involve users of services and their carer’s in the design, commissioning and evaluation of services. this work is extremely timely with emphasis on meaningful coproduction in transforming care partnerships and other national programmes. this is a fantastic opportunity to develop our thinking and relationships within the region to make this a reality."
Together, we co-designed a logo to support the work. We shared current practice. We co-produced a pledge along with a printable/easy read toolkit to ensure that we have a co-designed agreement of “what good looks like” and a tool that can actively monitor progress against that.

Pledge (pdf document)  >>>
Toolkit (pdf document) >>>

We are due to hold another event in September to bring people back together to share progress with the pledge/toolkit, discuss the remaining challenges and plan another phase of improvement support to ensure we live up to our pledge.

Here are some early examples of how we have used the pledge and toolkit to inform our work. We hope to report on outcomes and how the work is making a difference after the September event...


"Thurrock are working with their communities’ team to use the toolkit. They have an away day for their community hubs and will be asking teams to collect feedback against the pledge."
"Essex have done some good work on coproduction/ collaboration. Essex has commissioned Health watch to do a thinking piece on what is working/ not in Essex and for them to make some recommendations. The toolkit and pledge will be used to inform this work."
"Norfolk have used the pledge to start discussions with their ‘Making it real Group’ and Commissioners about what works well and what we need to improve. This has generated some great examples of good practice and some areas where we need to develop skills and expertise."
"Southend Borough Council in partnership with the University of Essex undertook a Community Study day in May. Part of the social work degree course involved 1st year students spending 5 days in Southend walking the streets, talking with residents and visiting groups and projects to map local assets and understand the strengths of the community."
"Hertfordshire has re-tendered community dementia services using the principles of coproduction and social value to create a sustainable, community owned service. This involved engaging GP services, memory clinics, providers, CCGs and national experts to understand the gaps and opportunities."
The programme has been supported by Simon Leftley, Eastern Regional Director Lead for Transforming Care & Deputy Chief Executive for Southend Borough Council.

For further details, please contact Natasha Burberry, Sector Led Improvement Programme Manager - Natasha.burberry@hertfordshire.gov.uk 

Working Together in Warwickshire’s SEND Programme

By Laura Musgrave, Co-production Officer, Warwickshire County Council


I work for Warwickshire's Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) programme. The programme brings people together to work on improving SEND services for ages 0 - 25 across the county. It was created in 2014 to make sure the national SEND reforms were put into action in Warwickshire.

The SEND Programme includes people from Education, Health and Social Care, service providers, children, young people, parents and carers. It brings together families’ skills and lived experience with professionals’ skills and experience. This valuable partnership means that professionals can better understand families’ experiences with services.

Co-production in the SEND Programme happens at different levels. Here are just a few examples:

Individual: a child or young person with an Education, Health and Care plan will work with professionals to develop their plan

Strategic: Warwickshire Parent Carer Forum reps sit on the SEND working groups, project groups and the SEND Programme Board, where decisions are made. Children and young people work with the groups and SEND Board through the Warwickshire Working Together Network (WWTN).

The WWTN was developed through work with local children and young people over about a year. The network approach means we’re able to meet people wherever they are (online and/or in person), which makes it easier for us to work together. That work happens in a space young people are already comfortable in, where they’re developing friendships and skills.

In a recent project group, p
arents and nurseries worked together to create a new 0 – 5 SEND quality award. This award shows that early years schools and childminders welcome children with SEND. Other projects have included parents working on Education, Health and Care Plan surveys, post-16 plans, and looking at increasing specialist school places in Warwickshire.

We also have the SEND Voice newsletter, which I’m proud to oversee with my co-editor, Jo Eburne, from Warwickshire Parent Carer Forum. SEND Voice shares information and news from different people involved in the SEND Programme. It goes out across Warwickshire in print and online. You can see our past newsletters on the What We’ve Done page of Warwickshire’s SEND Local Offer website.

We now have a growing email list for SEND news updates and stories, plus Facebook and Twitter pages. These tools help us share what we’ve done together, and open conversations with new people who might be interested in working together too.

You can see our SEND Local Offer website at www.warwickshire.gov.uk/send
And if you’re on Twitter or Facebook, please follow us at:
Twitter      @WarksCoPro

Facebook   @WarksCoPro

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Is co-production really working for people who do not have power?

By Philipa Bragman – CEO of CHANGE (Human rights organisation led by Disabled People, employing people with learning disabilities to co-work for the rights of all people with learning disabilities.)

The concept behind co-production is well thought out and a great idea however more and more people are asking and talking about the gap between the reality and the rhetoric of coproduction. 

In the conversations that we have up and down the country a key question that springs to mind is, who is coproduction working for?

Is co-production another way of saying that ‘we are participating in engagement’ which loosely describes having the person affected by the decisions that are being made, in the room.

What is missing and how can we make the thought and consideration that goes into developing the idea of coproduction into a reality.

At CHANGE we have been working and learning about coproduction for the past 23 years, our mistakes have been many and our lessons huge.

A key lesson for us has been that when people say: "You are leaving us out,"  it shows us that we have created enough spaces for people with learning disabilities to be included so that they can understand and articulate what not being included actually means.

CHANGE works globally and our work has recently taken us into the realms of Deep Democracy, which we believe could be the gap that is missing in this country and is the precursor to coproduction.  

We recently facilitated a three-day workshop in Nicaragua in which policy makers, politicians, Disabled and community leaders, people with learning disabilities and carers met. 

Using the ideas of Deep Democracy and Theatre of the Oppressed, we supported a process that ended with a shared agreement between everyone present in the workshop, to introduce  and develop easy read, increase employment  opportunities in key services for disabled people, and support for the development of self-advocacy in Nicaragua.

Deep Democracy is about creating a space where rank and power are owned, recognized and spoken about and the people who are marginalized have space and a voice to really share their experiences of what it means to be marginalized and to talk about things they  may not have spoken of before. 

We need to work together to recognize our shared humanity.

We would love to work with and support organisations in this country to be able to have the conversations that might be necessary before we can truly begin to work in a co-productive way.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Listen to real life experiences and the barriers that people face

By Cecilia Mercier, SCIE's Co-production Team 


My name is Cecilia Mercier, I have a learning difficulty. I work at SCIE and I am an Admin Support Assistant on the Co-Production team. 

We need Co-Production otherwise the help, support and services that people get will not be very good.  They will not meet the needs of the person.  You need to hear people’s real life experiences and the barriers that people face to know what works and what does not work.

At SCIE I have done some talks and training. I think me being a part of this is good because I know a lot about how to meet people with learning difficulties needs and the barriers that they face.  I feel like I can give something back, that my knowledge is valued and that I can be an expert in some areas.   

It is important that service users and carers come together with other professional as equals.  This means that no one is better than anyone else.  If all services are co-produced then the lives of the people who use these services would be so much better.  How could anyone think about designing a service without actually talking to and involving people who use the service.     

Co-production: what's in a word?

By Sue Bott, Deputy Chief Executive, Disability Rights UK 
Sue’s blog explores the word co-production and directly addresses the sport sector to start thinking about changing approaches to working with disabled people to improve access to physical activity and sport opportunities. This is part of the work that Disability Rights UK are doing on the Get Yourself Active and Get Out Get Active projects. 

I love this word ‘co-production’ and I hope, by the time you have read my blog, so will you.  You see it does what it says on the proverbial tin – we produce stuff together.  All over the world stuff is being produced every day whether it be houses, cars, smart phones, knowledge, ideas, theories . . . I could go on.  

Some stuff is produced by people working away on their own in a darkened room.  Other stuff is produced by lots of people and they all have an important part to play.  Take the smart phone.  Some people had to design it, some people had to sell it, and some people had to make it.  Unfortunately, the makers of stuff tend to be the ones who get forgotten about but without them we would be lost.

OK so we all accept that generally lots of people are involved in producing tangible things but what about ideas?  Isn’t that a little bit tricky?  You could go off on your own and have an idea but it is not going to get very far unless you talk to others.

I’ve got an idea – let’s get more disabled people doing sport and exercise.  Great idea!  I’m going to come and talk to you about it.  But remember it’s my idea so I just want you implement it like I say.  You can consider yourself consulted about my idea and, because I have good ideas and want to be helpful, I’m going to involve you in putting my idea into practice.

How did you get on?  What do you mean it didn’t work?  It was a great idea!  Are people saying that they have other ideas that might work that are based on their own experience so more likely to work?  You mean because I want to engage with disabled people then I should listen to their ideas?
Alright let’s have their ideas but I don’t want to lose mine.  

You could produce ideas together.  Are you saying I could keep my idea and put it together with the ideas of others to make a truly great idea that would work?  Brilliant I’m up for that!

Do you know co-producing does work.  Do things together they are more likely to work.  It’s not a chore or an irritating must do. Working and producing together we can bring about change.  So come on you sport and exercise providers.  You want to get more disabled people to come along don’t just print a few nice glossy leaflets saying how welcoming you are get out there and engage and co-produce with disabled people. 

You can follow Sue’s guide dog Faith @guidedogfaith 

Monday, 3 July 2017

Why is co-production key to future of NHS?

By Daniel Gammons, ‘Digital Pioneer’ and Sports Development Officer (Health Inequalities), Huntingdonshire District Council.


A cardiac patient reviewing data from her CR+ digital monitoring equipment sees the connection between inhaler use, lung function and cough status.

This week is national co-production week, which is actually rather important. But why does it matter?

Today we launch the Digital Pioneers programme in the East of England, which is driving forward use of innovation and technology in our health and care services. 

In my area - Huntingdonshire, we recognise the impact that technology could have on rehabilitation support.  According to the British Heart Foundation, Cardiovascular disease still kills around one in four people in the UK. Research shows cardiac rehabilitation reduces the risk of death from heart disease by 26 to 36% and reduces readmissions by 28 to 56%. However, uptake in the UK is low. Our CR+ project aims to improve the cardiac rehabilitation offer and increase engagement levels.

The CR+ concept combines three elements.  Firstly, a new educational syllabus for self-care integrated with the existing exercise programme.  Secondly, the use of Activ8rlives (A8) self-care technology developed with support from innovation broker, SBRI Healthcare.  The third element is to create a self-supporting follow-on support social group.

We are working with patients and volunteers to co-produce and deliver the project. Without their expertise and support from the start, it would be at a high risk of failure. Mirror this throughout the health and care sector and you will see how we can bring about the changes necessary for a sustainable transformation. 

Connecting people and motivating them to work well together is the hardest challenge for us. Fortunately the NHS is currently funding the Eastern Academic Health Science Network (and 14 more AHSNs across regions in England) which work as a link between all critical organisations in our area. They also support us with training, guidance and access to project funding. Having that central driving force is essential.

I believe that by using co-production methods like this, our public health and care services can move towards the future that we all hope for. That is why it matters.

We have two other co-produced Digital Pioneer projects being launched this week, one is focused on 
digital Inclusion for children and young people and one is supporting paramedics assessment of stroke patients, both in Suffolk. Visit the Eastern AHSN website to read more.

Go on, Get involved?

By Kate Pieroudis, Get Out Get Active Peer Support Lead, Disability Rights UK


To me, co-production is all about the people who use services being involved in creating them. When I worked for the fantastic disabled people’s organisation Action Disability Kensington & Chelsea (ADKC), my whole job was to create ways local disabled people could get their voices heard. I spent ages meeting Council Officers hammering home that disabled people often have the best ideas because they use services day in day out and can also say what doesn’t work! 

New to the Borough, I heard about the grand unveiling of the ‘fully accessible’ brand-spanking new leisure centre that local disabled people were invited along to, sadly the wheelchair users couldn’t fit through the door!. This is one reason to consult disabled people- to avoid mortifying incidents like this. 

This was around the time the Duty to Involve was introduced (2009) requiring public services to consult and involve people in decision-making to ‘embed a culture of engagement’. Mainly because they had to, local authorities consulted with disabled people, but over time something great happened. In Kensington &Chelsea word about the project spread- that there were groups of disabled people who were sharing valuable ideas, experiences and positive suggestions about how services could improve. 

Our phone was ringing off the hook and over 3 years disabled people worked with the NHS, the Council, Public Health, and some of the best Museums in the world like the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Natural History Museum advising on how to make exhibitions, buildings and processes more accessible to disabled people. 

I’ll also never forget someone on a stakeholder panel I sat on saying “but disabled people will only talk about themselves’ after I suggested they be invited to join the panel. I would meet disabled people who were insightful, tactful, positive who had great ideas but who would never think of themselves as ‘experts’ in the way things should be. In the training sessions I’d run, I watched their confidence increase and over time even the shyest, most disempowered individuals would want to speak up. 

I would also meet people who were extremely angry with systems locally and a wider society who didn’t understand, let alone meet their needs. They had a tendency to be negative but with encouragement, support and training they too would get involved as they watched their views get taken on board in community action plans and local strategies to make services more accessible. For some, this was life-changing. Often in these groups, disabled people would instinctively support each other- being given the space to share their experiences (good and bad) meant they felt less alone and when they saw their ideas were helpful to others, their confidence often grew. 

My current role as Peer Support Lead at DR UK enables active people with disabilities or long-term health conditions to become mentors, working one to one with another disabled person to get them more active as part of the Get Out Get Active (GOGA) Programme. There isn’t another project quite like this-valuing disabled people’s experience as an asset and using this to improve wellbeing amongst other disabled people. 

Our job is to harness people’s lived experiences and make things better. With the right training and support and most importantly given the opportunity to, disabled people can share their ideas and improve the communities they live in. 
More info: www.getoutgetactive.co.uk 

Disability Rights UK - Get Out Get Active 


Co-production in public services: a complex journey of change

By Noreen Blanluet, co-production consultant, facilator, coach and mentor. 



Co-production is a journey, not a binary measure. It is the organisational equivalent of a personal path to self-actualisation, in which it isn't possible to finally arrive, stop growing, and tick the "done" box. Instead it is a constantly evolving process of striving with curiosity, collective learning, and incremental improvement.

More and more public services are recognising the need to adopt co-productive practices in order to create long-term effectiveness, cost savings, and improve delivery in a complex and ever-changing social and economic landscape. Legislative or policy compliance can provide the initial nudge by imposing a statutory duty for them to "do co-production". However they are being required to navigate, without a map, the tension between investing time and resources to create sustainable future services, while delivering essential provision right now under increasing pressures.

Many might be hoping for a new, simple, one-size-fits-all, fast and effective system that will solve that tension. Unfortunately co-production isn't simple: while its principles are straightforward, their practical application requires flexibility, innovative thinking, and adaptability to constantly evolving contexts. It cannot offer a one-size-fits-all solution. People, situations, teams and communities are endlessly variable. The beauty of co-production is that identifying and building on our specific set of assets and resources will return the best possible result for us, which will look different from everyone else's. 

But this means that the same core principles will result in context-specific outcomes created with care and awareness, not rolled out blindly regardless of local needs. Nor is co-production fast. Building the solid, trusting relationships that underpin it requires time, commitment, and showing up with openness and consistency. It's an inner journey as much as an organisational one for all involved.

That is why successfully working to co-production principles requires a radical mindset shift, which translates into a significant culture change for the whole organisation: becoming a learning organisation means getting comfortable with the uncertainty that characterises complex systems, approaching situations with the cultural humility to listen with openness and draw on a range of expertise, and taking calculated risks to test and iterate potential solutions, before scaling those that work in a context-specific way. 

This requires an authentic leadership that recognises the importance of building genuine relationships of trust, and that enables both the workforce and the recipients of services to be engaged and empowered. 

Without this understanding, attempting to roll out co-production as a process-based approach will at best have limited success, and at worst may fail spectacularly. Process-based "co-production" cannot truly deliver effective and sustainable change, because it is missing the point.

For services already under huge pressure, it might seem like too big an ask. It is undeniably a big commitment that will take time; however it is still a better solution than continuing to struggle in vain with increasingly failing systems. By applying a co-productive approach internally to begin with, we can realise that we already have a lot of what we need in the assets and the resources of our teams and workforce, as well as our service users and their communities. It requires breaking with routine to take a bold step and ask: "What matters to you?", and then truly listening.

While policy and legislation are setting a direction of travel as well as a statutory obligation, too many organisations are still uncertain how to tackle the transition. For co-production to really become the basis of public services, investment is necessary not only in training and toolkits, networks and resources, but also to transform leadership mindset and organisational culture. Explicit support is required to accelerate the pace of change, and to help our public services grow into the co-productive organisations that we need them to be.

Noreen Blanluet is a co-production consultant. She has been observing the evolution of the public services landscape and is convinced that more positive change is in the works. http://noreenblanluet.co.uk
twitter: @noreenblanluet


Thursday, 29 June 2017

Why I support co-production week

By Francesca Martinez; comedian, speaker, actress and writer 

I got quite excited when my agent told me SCIE wanted me to do a gig for them. Of course, I thought it was going to be Sky TV. And she said something about co-production which really got me interested. Was it going to be HBO? Or AMC ?

It turned out to be the Social Care Institute for Excellence, shorten to S-C-I-E, and pronounced sky. So not quite what I was expecting – and where did co-production fit in?

I’ve done my share of campaigning and flying the flag for disability rights, but I’d never heard of co-production. It turns out that co-production is all about disabled people, service users and carers having a voice and working with professionals to make health and social care services the best they can be. 

During Co-production Weekall sorts of people and organisations are holding events, blogging, tweeting, sharing experiences and making co-production commitments. It’s amazing that so many people across the country are all working to improve life for everybody and make their voice heard.    

What co-production means to me

One of the slogans that sums up co-production is: ‘Nothing about us without us.’ This means that if services are being planned for disabled people or others, who need different types of support, then those people should be fully involved. Nothing should be decided without the people effected by the decisions having their say. 

Why I am performing at SCIE’s Co-production Festival

I am really looking forward to performing at SCIE’s Co-production festival in Camden on 5th July.  The audience will be mainly people who use services and carers; from disabled people to people with mental health issues, older people, people with learning difficulties and young people who have been through the care system.  It’s not often that I perform in front of such a diverse range of people. 

For me this is personal

I grew up often being talked down to by medical professionals. Even as a teenager, doctors would talk directly to my mum about my needs while I would sit, looking awkwardly at the floor, feeling like a giant gooseberry. My mum always politely urged the person to interact with me instead, so they would turn to me, nervously smiling and nodding, before adopting a slightly forced cheeriness to hide their discomfort. 

I used to come away feeling frustrated at not being treated normally, and often anticipated future meetings with dread. These appointments would leave me feeling disempowered and ignored. Because of this, I am passionate about ensuring people of different abilities have their voices heard, especially when it comes to their care needs. 

Human diversity is a natural part of life, and we should build a society where we not only celebrate difference, but make everyone – no matter what their ability – feel respected and listened to.

Francesca's website >>>

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Co-production in later life at the Mental Health Foundation

By Jolie Goodman, Later Life Programmes Lead, the Mental Health Foundation

Women from a Standing Together group at the launch of the book we co-produced with them, "Our ups and downs growing up and getting on - with the Rotherhithe Babes." 
For National Co-Production Week 2017, in leading the Later Life Programmes at the Mental Health Foundation, I’m making the commitment to continue co-producing any work we undertake. 

Our mission at MHF is to help people to thrive through understanding, protecting and sustaining their mental health; to partner and co-produce with communities is one of the six principles of our Thrive initiatives.

How we co-produce work in later life already

I manage the Standing Together Project. With funding from the Big Lottery Fund, we are facilitating 20 self-help groups in extra care and retirement housing schemes to address loneliness and wellbeing. The idea for the Standing Together project came from tenants wanting to join a previous project, which worked only with people with dementia. 

People who participate in Standing Together groups may have a learning disability, experience poor mental health, memory issues and / or be socially isolated.

At my interview for the role of project manager one of the panel had dementia. Three members of the panel were over 50, the age where MHF sees later life beginning.

We also have tenants as members of the project’s Advisory Group, one of whom lives with dementia and has made an impression on other stakeholders. He was frustrated as the group he attended was not being sustained after the six months of MHF staff facilitation and advocated for its continuation. Consequently, someone has been employed to continue the facilitation of that group.

Co-producing the future Development of Later Life Work at MHF

We are currently developing a Welsh version of Standing Together. At the very first planning meeting with partner organisations, tenants attended. Throughout the application, delivery and evaluation of the project, tenants will be central to co-producing the project. 

A database has been set up of people who are interested in co-producing MHF’s later life work. We will be asking people on the list what their priorities are for the future; to inform a new advisory group to co-produce and steer the direction of our work. 

Why co-production is important

Using co-production, to underpin MHF’s preventative public health plans in later life, means that we will continue to facilitate programmes that are both evidence-based and that people will want to access - to improve their quality of life and mental health. 


Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Filming: co-production is our usual way of working

By Sybil Ah-Mane, Flexible Films

Flexible Films: embracing co-production at every opportunity 

It's been a rewarding but also at times challenging process to work in a co-productive way when producing films. We have been working with SCIE for a number of years and they have systems in place that help this way of working. Things such as making sure that accessibility is a priority when planning meetings and filming; and ensuring there are a good mix of people with different experiences and skills involved and realistic timelines all help the process. 

Working in a co-productive way during filming is fairly simple

It's about making the person being filmed feel in control - and that's achieved by giving them as much information as needed and also the opportunity to ask questions. Just letting them know that they can stop the filming if needed or that they do not have to answer questions - it makes a huge difference. 

I always ask them at the end if there is anything they'd said they do not want in the edit. I will also let them know that they will be able to view the film before it is finalised.

Working with steering groups on editing decisions requires careful planning

It's important that everyone's views are taken on board so it's key to have someone facilitating this. Film is a subjective medium and not everyone will have the same views, so reaching a group consensus can take time. That's why it's important to do it in stages and to have realistic deadlines. We have found that working in a co-productive way has enhanced the filming process and has produced more meaningful films. It has now become our usual way of working!

Flexible films >>>