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Driving the train: The impact of co-production

by Lisa Carr

Kathryn Smith, CEO, Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE)  

This July sees the seventh annual Co-production Week. From 2016 we’ve run the week to highlight the vital contribution that people, who draw on care and support services make. And that’s what co-production is all about: Putting people right at the heart of the decisions that are made about them.  

A great thing happened last year during Co-production Week, it took on a life of its own!  We heard from about 150 organisations, on social media, about their activities. Many of these we weren’t already following on Twitter. It was a fantastic response; and the important thing was that the focus wasn’t on my organisation, SCIE, but instead was about the people who draw on care and support.  This means that the week was breathing all on its own.  

What about impact?  

So, we could see the week was making people sit up and think. And that’s vital. It’s good to ‘talk the talk’ about co-production, ‘participation’ and ‘engagement’, but is it having any impact on the ground? So, for this Co-production Week, we’re publishing a new report on the Impact of co-production. Called an ‘Evidence review’, we think it’s important because there have been few attempts to systematically collect evidence on co-production’s impact.  

In the last few years there’s been a lot of reporting on the process of co-production, which is important, but look out for our report on impact, which isn’t out at the time of writing – but will be around for Co-production Week. The address for the week is at the end of this article. The publication of the report will be followed up with a webinar on the findings of the research. 

‘Advanced co-production’ 

Last year during Co-production Week we ran a workshop on how professionals were embracing co-production on the frontline. And the questions that came through were really intricate. It showed how co-production is really happening and the workforce is really questioning how it works to provide more personalised care. And recently we heard from someone who draws on services, and who has found it frustrating when their views haven’t always been embraced. But they tell us: “Co-production doesn’t always feel tokenistic anymore, which is a huge change. We aren’t just stoking the engine; we are driving the train.” 

And for those who are new to co-production, we’re going to record a podcast on what co-production is. A sort of ‘co-production for beginners’. Again, that will be on our website. When Co-production Week 2021 took on a life of its own on social media, it reminded us that the more co-production is discussed, the more its impact is felt – and measured – and the more we do good co-production, the more it encourages further co-production. This is important because the best way to improve people’s lives is to involve those people centrally in the decisions made about them. 

Co-production Week 2022 https://www.scie.org.uk/co-production/week  

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