What is Co-Production?
Co-production is about the inclusion of people with lived experience of mental illness, as well as their partners, family and friends (who are all “Experts by Experience”) in the commissioning, planning and delivery of services as equal partners with service providers and professionals.
It is a well established approach, having been defined in the early 1970s in America, and drawing on a longer history of both community development and person-centred care.
Some work on co-production looks at the relationship between individual service users and providers. More commonly co-production is concerned with the relationship between the whole service and its actual and potential beneficiaries, which includes:
• How Experts by Experience can be actively involved in the design and delivery of services, which is commonly called co-design and co-delivery;
• How people with lived experience can be involved in how commissioners plan, fund, manage and evaluate the overall programme of statutory, third sector and private services in a locality, which is referred to as co-commissioning.
It couldn’t be more important for people with mental illness, and their carers, to be meaningfully included in the decisions that affect their lives... it makes absolute sense to get input from those people who use those services every day. - Danielle Hamm, Rethink Mental Illness.
In 2016, the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health (5YFVMH) called for co-production to be adopted at every stage of the commissioning cycle in order to deliver one of the report’s key strategic targets, that:
Every person with a mental health problem should be able to say: I am confident that the services I may use have been designed in partnership with people who have relevant lived experience.
Co-production can build on the personalisation agenda in health and social care. Where services seek to support self-management and build individual resilience, it is logical that experts by experience co-design and co-review service models, because they will have the ideal perspective on what factors support and which inhibit individual recovery.
Co-production is particularly relevant to the need to build resilient communities and increase social capital. Co-production is effective in; mobilising informal, cultural and community assets that exist within localities that can be involved in packages and pathways of care; building peer networks in programmes of care and recovery; and repositioning services as a “catalyst for change” co-ordinating the delivery of support across family, community or work settings.
Finally, co-production can be the ideal method to drill down into the reasons for long standing inequalities in care, giving voice to previously marginalised user perspectives, and building connections between services and groups that have been traditionally seen as “hard to reach”.
If you are interested in adopting a co-production in your organisation, here is an easy guide to get you started
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