Co-production Week 2019

Co-production Week 2019

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Co-Production has emboldened me

By David Grimm, artist and consultant

Introduced to a new world

I have been involved in co-produced work for going on sixteen years. Ever since I was taken into care, all the way through to being a 30-year-old man.

As a child I was used to my world being done for me and I was in large part a bystander to my own life. 

This cycle was broken by a member of staff who realised that I had been isolated in care by things being done for me and that I lacked any drive-in life.

So, they suggested that I attend a local advocacy agency and get involved in a drug and alcohol awareness group, I was really nervous as I was expecting to sit down and have everything done for me and to me and I would again just be there for the sake of being.

Realisation of the impact it had

To my absolute surprise, that wasn’t how this group worked, and in fact it was frowned upon by the other young people to work in this way, as they had been empowered and had autonomy in how the group was run. What work they took on? What materials they used for educational purposes…from that moment on, I have struggled with any “youth work” that doesn’t employ a co-production approach.

I managed to attend ten years of different projects before taking time to myself and when I stopped, I felt completely hollow and only lasted twelve / thirteen months before engaging with a new group.

Another new world

This group had a completely different method of co pro than I was used to. This being that the shared power was just that, 70 – 30 in favour of the young people. It was incredible.

These young people had come up with plans of action for a funding initiative that would wholly benefit young care leavers and had taken it to the board for legal approval.

They implemented the roll out of their own plans and the advertising of everything to do with the group, from funding applications through to recruiting new group members.

I have never felt as empowered as I have when being surrounded by this wholly inclusive group of people from the same background as I am and the staff that work alongside us!

All co-production has strengths in spades but this one holds strength in the power divide, the young people are key to making it work. 

I now feel I run my own life, and no longer watch idly by.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Co-produced films about patient engagement

By Nicole Kirby, Macmillan Engagement Lead, North of England

At Macmillan Cancer Support we’re about to launch two short films about the benefits of engaging people affected by cancer in the development, design and delivery of cancer services.  The films  - one aimed at people affected by cancer and one at professionals - are the culmination of over a year’s work with a group of patients, carers and healthcare staff, who want to share their enthusiasm for engagement with others.

Whilst the initial idea for the films came from myself and a colleague, the work has been very much a co-production approach, bringing people who’ve had a cancer diagnosis & those that care for them together with cancer professionals, to shape the project with their knowledge and experience.

Together they:
  • Agreed key messages & audiences
  • Appointed a video producer & came up with a concept
  • Wrote the scripts & starred in the films. 

The process
The work has been as much about process as product, so my role has been facilitating and supporting the group; allowing time for the group to get to know one another and come to shared understanding  about the work, supporting individuals to be involved, and helping to ensure they stay firmly in control.  Fundamental to this is the concept of power sharing; treating those with lived experience as the experts they are, and putting them in the driving seat alongside cancer professionals.

The benefits of co-production
Taking a co-production approach for this work has taken a lot of time and effort, but I think it’s worth it – the product is the result of the group’s experience, skills and commitment, and group members have commented that they’ve found the process ‘empowering’ and ‘patient led’ and that they are now ‘passionate about engagement’.  

The films will shortly be available on Macmillan’s website and Youtube/Vimeo channels.  The group hope the films will encourage other people to value engagement the way that they do, because (in their words), ‘Together, our combined expertise can make the world of difference.’   

Monday, 15 July 2019

Power-sharing: A journey

By Mike Goodwin, Gemma Stacey and Linda Sunderland, School of Health Sciences at the University of Nottingham

We pride ourselves itself on our reputation for working in partnership with the public in education and research. Following an external review, the school committed to an ethos that supported co-production.

A new structure was developed to enable this. However, in practice people involved experienced their influence inhibited by existing power structures. Then the School unilaterally altered the way it engaged members of the public, to comply with new employment law - those affected felt disregarded, disempowered and undervalued and, crucially, that the School’s actions contradicted its espoused values.

The ensuing reaction challenged the organisation’s executive power. People collectively empowered themselves, mobilising their resources to express their discontent; their cause was supported by academic staff and trade union representatives.

With the prospect of reputational damage and withdrawal of public contribution to curriculum delivery and quality monitoring, there was an organisational impetus to redress the power imbalance. However at one stage, the two ‘sides’ held widely diverging perceptions of each others motivations and there seemed little prospect of a solution.  

A way forward did emerge - via an open meeting where a crucial power shift occurred facilitated through active listening, understanding differing viewpoints, accepting criticism and compromise. This enabled collaboration towards a solution, including a more equitable public engagement structure - the established power structures had adapted to accommodate a new one.


Although the process was challenging we realised that whilst our motivations were different, our end goal was shared - to achieve the best quality educational experience for our students and to positively impact healthcare practice.

We hope to embody our learning and develop a shared culture. There is commitment to ensure developments are based on mutual agreement; and an awareness that power lies not with one or other part of the organisation, but within the process of developing solutions that are jointly accepted. Such mutually shared power can fit within or alongside existing power structures, and challenge and inform them. What will be most important is that the honesty and transparency continues and this enables everyone to work collaboratively towards change.

Collaboration in the regulation of social services in Israel

By Hilla Dolev, Team Leader, Regulation and Quality Assurance, Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute

Regulation of social services aims to safeguard the rights of people receiving care and to improve the quality of care. Real-life regulation is a challenge in light of the multiple stakeholders such as the government, the public, the inspectorate, service providers and of course, the service users themselves, who have many, and sometimes conflicting interests. Under these challenging circumstances, it is important to develop a meaningful collaboration with service users, particularly in the three main regulatory tasks: standard setting, standard monitoring (commonly referred to as inspection) and enforcement.

Why collaborate with service users when setting standards?
Standards guide the implementation of policy. They reflect the goals and define the values by which the services should function when providing care. So, if there is a genuine will to form user-centered and responsive services that recognize users’ needs and rights and to strive to meet them, it is crucial that service users take part in setting these standards.

Why collaborate with service users when inspecting services?
Inspection is about examining the ways in which services actually operate as compared to service standards. It requires ongoing actions of observing and tracking the services' strengths and weaknesses, the improvements as well as the violations, which may indicate danger. As much as regulators have information about what is going on, even the most sophisticated data collection cannot provide the whole picture without involving service users who actually experience the care.

Why collaborate with service users when taking enforcement actions?
Enforcement requires making judgements about the quality of care, and taking actions accordingly (e.g. performance scores, licensing, incentives, and sanctions). These judgements and actions affect not only the providers and the market, but first and foremost the people using the service. Moreover, they are based at least partially on interpretations of the quality of the service. Therefore, enforcement cannot be complete without taking into account the users’ perspective.     

Final thoughts
In Israel as in other countries, there have been different levels of service-user involvement in the regulation of social services for more than a decade. However, it is not enough to celebrate its existence. We should also ask: what is the scope of involvement in each of the regulatory tasks, and how well are we utilizing this important resource?  

Friday, 12 July 2019

Getting away from tokenism: Co- producing a Strategic Review

By Charlotte Crabtree, KeyRing Living Support Networks

This Co-production Week we thought ‘what better way to celebrate than to do some co-production?’

We launched our Strategic Review by starting with KeyRing Members. This week we’ve been out and about across the country asking people where they feel KeyRing should be in the future. 
Grimsby network Members

The leadership team could sit around a table and come up with a brilliant Mission and Vision. After all, we know who we are and it would be cheaper than the hours spent with Members getting their feed-in. That approach is just not us though and it certainly is not co-production!

We could write the Mission and Vision and send them round to the Members for feedback. That is not co-production either. That is tokenism at best.

Instead we are asking people (Members) what they want KeyRing to be. This is the start of our new future Mission and Vision .

This is only phase one. The next phase will look at this feedback and give us the basis for some more in depth and focussed review. It’s a process informed by the Members. A co-produced process.

Even Phase 1 is carefully considered to ensure that people’s thoughts and feeling are not restricted by a framework of responses. Every session is tailored to the skills of the Members attending to get the best out of them and include everyone!
West Bromwich network Members 

Here are some of the things that people have said so far about what they envisage for KeyRing’s future:

More help supporting more people
Everyone chipping in – making it more peaceful
Expanding business – but not too much
German KeyRing, France KeyRing etc…
More memberships, more staff
Make sure we support people that want support and that Members engage
Support members into employment and or volunteering
More services for people in our area.

The range of input shows that people have a really informed and inspiring vision for the future of KeyRing. They are interested and engaged in the future. They are also thinking beyond their own lives and considering the options for people who are not already receiving this kind of support. We know that many of our Members were really affected by the Panorama programme on Whorlton Hall and want more people to have the opportunity to live in their local community.

Andrew - a member in Staple Hill

I look forward to sharing the next stage of our co-produced strategic review journey.

Find out more about us at

Monday, 8 July 2019

Letter from America. Daniel and true co-production

By Diana E. Matteson, Director of International Programs & Development, YAP, Inc.

We’ve all done it. And perhaps beautifully. Done the PowerPoint, practiced our lines, divvied up the responsibilities if we have co-presenters. All to share our mission, our daily labor, our vision of what makes for a better world. And after we squeeze in the relevant information, we share a story. A service user’s story, with permissions granted for real names and actual photos, maybe artwork or a direct quote. And to be most effective-there needs to be a face and a real story. But are we doing that individual’s story justice? Is what we consider the most relevant what really made a difference for that person?

What if we shared the stage, the opportunity to educate and potentially influence, the power with the individual most invested, the “service user”?

We decided to find out. Alongside Daniel, an autism self-advocate, aka “service user,”; we composed a proposal for the 2019 European Social Network (ESN) Conference and sent it off in darkest winter with the conference site of Milan in June a sunny thought to sustain us through the snow. Just about the time winter reached its icy limits, word came from ESN that our proposal was accepted.

Here is where the magic begins. Over a matter of months, we created the presentation. Daniel worked one-on-one with the local director of Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc. in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he lives and remotely with me in Washington, DC and our colleague in Galway, Ireland. Every aspect of the presentation from the images, font and color choices in the PowerPoint to the content of the presentation and script involved Daniel. The process was co-productive with Daniel taking the lead at times and allowing others to share expertise and guide in other moments. 

In a true collaborative space, Daniel led us in how his story should be told. Daniel’s journey from defined-by-a-diagnosis to advocate, documentarian and international presenter is remarkable, and I invite you to read it.

Daniel Hackett
But it is the development of a proposal, a presentation, a script and many dress rehearsals later in the sharing of power, true co-production, to authentically tell a story that I invite you to consider and celebrate with me.

YAP is an international nonprofit organization exclusively committed to the provision of community-based alternatives to out-of-home care through direct service, advocacy and policy change since 1975.

Friday, 5 July 2019

Reflections on my first Co-Production Week

By Kate Pieroudis, Co-production Development Manager at the Social Care Institute for Excellence

It didn’t start well. I locked myself out while getting milk so disturbed 30 older people in the Community Centre across the road doing their rehabilitation exercises explaining it was an emergency- the first day of Co-Production week and could I borrow a ladder? They blinked at me, bemused.

As I was scaling the 30ft garden wall with their ladder- the lovely crystal-wearing bohemian French man who runs the Centre and my very posh neighbour (ready to call an ambulance in case I fell) both applauded as I disappeared through my bedroom window- a fine example of co-production, I wondered? 

I dusted myself off and started Tweeting about the launch of our report ‘Breaking Down The Barriers to Co-Production’ – informed entirely from people who came to our Co-Production Festival last year. Standout thoughts from the report- people we asked said the two things that would strengthen co-production the most were bringing together evidence of what works in co-production and more leadership from senior managers.

Tuesday saw the launch of the first ever Co-Production Podcast! Oxfordshire County Council and Kirklees Council told us about the barriers to co-production in large complex organisations: lots of teams, shifting priorities and shrinking pots of cash with practical solutions to how they’ve succeeded in setting up a Co-Production Board with SCIE’s support in Oxfordshire and co-producing a policy on how they pay carers in Kirklees. Professionals were interviewed by local people- a perfect example of sharing power- the theme of Co-Production week 2019.

140+ people joined our Webinar on Wednesday on how to run accessible and inclusive events including one from Canada! (co-delivered with people with leaning difficulties). We launched the co-production ‘attitudes’ survey and two fantastic members of SCIE’s Co-Production Steering Group ran a successful Twitter event that night.

For me though, the jewel in the Co-Production week crown has to be our Co-production Festival. Over 150 people attended to celebrate co-production, collaborate and innovate- our Chief Executive Tony Hunter stood on chairs, worked the room and whipped up a semi-frenzy with his rendition of ‘I’m a Believer (Co-Production YAY!)”. Headliner Lemn Sissay told me as we put together the finishing touches to his blog  “What SCIE is doing by running this Festival is beautiful- providing a space where young people will be heard” Our six seminars went swimmingly and over lunch I saw people exchanging ideas and contacts for more co-production to hopefully happen.

I woke up to a text from Lemn Sissay saying “I should say thank you. To be in a place where my ideas and story are received is incredible for me.”

And that’s the message – people sharing their stories means relationships being built that leads to more equal power sharing between professionals and people who use services and carers - the key ingredient for meaningful co-production to happen.

*names and identities of Hackney residents changed to protect the innocent