The importance of co-production when comissioning services
With one in four people experiencing a mental health problem in their lifetime, it is important that people with lived experience are able to help shape the services and groups that support them. In this special blog as part of our #ccgcopro event, Chris discusses what co-production means to him and why people with mental illness should have a say in the options available to them.
Co-production is a subject that is close to my heart, and so I’m glad that it features so strongly in the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health (FYFVMH). To me, co-production in Mental Health means equal involvement, say, and value in a process from inception to fruition. There is a big difference between co-production and involvement, and can be meaningful or tokenistic levels of either.
Being brought in when decisions have already been made or when views of people with lived experience are sought but can’t really influence anything is not real co-production.
In Chester, the local groups I’m part of have a great relationship with our local Mental Health commissioners, both within the local CCG and the council. Whilst there have been no new services designed, commissioned or delivered during that time, we have been involved in a number of consultations and a recent strategic needs assessment. We are confident that we will be involved with the co-production of any new services in the area. In the meantime, we’ve been working alongside commissioners as they have moved beyond co-production and have funded us to run our own local wellbeing programme. This was designed to enable us to widen the reach and activities that our local peer support programme can offer.
In West Cheshire we have recently started a local Mental Health Partnership board which will be comprised of an equal-split of professionals and those with lived experience. This in itself has been co-produced and its key aim will be to hold the entire locality to account around delivering the recommendations of the FYFVMH. On co-production we are particularly keen to ensure delivery on the following points: ‘Services must be designed in partnership with people who have mental health problems and with carers’ (FYFVMH p20) and ‘Co-production with experts-by-experience should also be a standard approach to commissioning and service design’ (FYFVMH p20).
Overall, across the country I think we still have a long way to go and if we are living in a culture of ‘doing things the way things have always been done’ it will take considerable efforts to make the change. However, the benefits of services that have been co-produced will help so many people and help ease the burden on the system.
Many CCGs may be grappling with how to meaningfully involve people, so you reaching out could be a really helpful first step. I would encourage campaigners to try and meet with your CCG and from my own experiences I’ve found that the power of numbers has helped. Representing a local charity, forum, peer support or campaigning group can make people stand up and listen. It might be worth seeing if there is a local forum or campaigning group in your area. If not you could think about starting one. If you’re interested why not have a look if there’s a group in your area here, as well as some great information here on campaigns.
If you are intersted in getting involved with co-production at Rethink Mental Illness,
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org