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What is co-production, why would we do it and how can we implement it?

Melika Powell is a Research and Development Officer for Research in Practice for Adults. She writes about what co-production is, when participation becomes co-production, and working with carers:

“Involving people in the design, delivery and ongoing development of services is important on an ethical and emotional level, as it can support those involved to develop their skills and promote their wellbeing. In addition it can improve services and has also been shown to contribute towards efficiencies in public services (Involve, 2015).

Not only can co-production lead to improvements in services, it can be incredibly rewarding on a personal level. Involving people with lived experience never fails to deepen my understanding of how life is for a range of people in different circumstances and provides me with a perspective that I would not otherwise gain on my own. The knowledge gained through co-production with people with lived experience helps to shine a light on what is important to them and the wider group they identify with, and in turn provides opportunities to work with them to generate ideas and develop strategies that will go some way to overcoming the identified challenges. Without engaging with people with lived experience, I know the usefulness and the quality of the work I do would suffer.

In my early career working with people with learning disabilities, I was fortunate enough to work with a group of colleagues who genuinely believed in a rights based approach to supporting people – an approach that really underpins co-production. During this time I worked closely with the people we supported and through multimedia advocacy facilitated them to voice their aspirations, develop the support they received and be involved in their annual reviews and in wider decision making processes. In my experience, this approach led to a better quality of life for the people I supported and in turn positively impacted on their wellbeing. It also enabled me to develop positive relationships with them and in some cases reduced their levels of anxiety which in turn reduced instances of challenging behaviour.”


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