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Co-production can change lives!

By brighteningminds, May 3 2019 06:43AM

‘Co-production is not just a word, it’s not just a concept, it is a meeting of minds coming together to find a shared solution. In practice, it involves people who use services being consulted, included and working together from the start to the end of any project that affects them.’ Think Local Act Personal (2011)

Co-production done well can be life changing.

Harnessing the experience, information, skills and knowledge of people who use services to inform delivery of those services is going to influence the quality of delivery in a positive way. It creates opportunities for people working for a service to see those using the service as people first, and it helps us all to see a little bit of what the world looks like from a different perspective.

Co-production isn’t easy. Enabling people to participate, contribute their thoughts and be involved ‘from the start to the end of any project that affects them’ takes real commitment and passion on behalf of the service, it takes time and patience, and sometimes we have to hear things that aren’t comfortable!

The benefits of co-producing training, policy development, service plans are many; we took some time to reflect on our experiences and share an example of co-production in practice.

Brightening Minds Training was invited to deliver a program of person-centred approaches training to the care and support team of a national charity. This organisation really promotes taking a person-centred approach when supporting individuals to live their lives. They wanted some training that would underpin that approach, helping people to think about how they can ensure the support they provide really puts the person at the centre and responds to their wants and needs.

The training plan was created by someone who receives care and support alongside an experienced trainer. They sat together and wrote a draft; they worked through the draft and presented it to the rest of the training team; they adapted the training plan based on feedback from the team. This was a true co-production.

Working together with people with a care and support need gave us a perspective when we were producing the training plan that we would otherwise not have had. In turn that helped us to build in exercises that would really enable people to reflect on their own lives, wants and preferences and how that might influence the care and support they provide, and then to consider how they might continue to challenge themselves and their teams about what really person centred support is and the positive impact that support can have on people’s lives.

We included videos in which some of our colleagues who receive care and support describe examples of great experiences of person-centred support, and some not so positive experiences, as well as tackling subjects such as positive risk taking, and helping people to think about what is possible in their lives.

The training is delivered by an experienced trainer and someone who has experience of receiving care and support. We have worked really hard to grow the confidence of people when co-facilitating training. Again, this has taken some hard work and some time, but seeing the impact on course participants when people talk about their real-life experiences shows how worthwhile and meaningful this approach can be.

The feedback from training has been incredibly positive; every course participant has had something positive to say and overall the most common responses mention the value of having that ‘expert by experience’ present at the training, sharing their experiences and helping them to think a little differently. What’s more the organisation has fed back that training they value is training people talk about afterwards; and they talk about our person-centred approaches training. People can’t wait to go back and put what they’ve learned into practice, or to celebrate the great things they are doing already in their services with the rest of their team.

We’ve learned a lot through co-production; sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know! If it isn’t your experience then why would you?

Co-production is not asking people to answer questions that are based on or driven by your agenda; it is not inviting someone along to an event to share their opinion and doing nothing with that opinion, and it is not the same as consultation. It’s more than that; it’s the contribution of people who use services being embedded in the absolute fabric of what you do, it’s a commitment not just to hearing people but to using what you hear to produce something that benefits them and others. And when you get it right it’s magic!

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