Co-production Week 2017

Co-production Week 2017

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Co-production in later life at the Mental Health Foundation

By Jolie Goodman, Later Life Programmes Lead, the Mental Health Foundation

Women from a Standing Together group at the launch of the book we co-produced with them, "Our ups and downs growing up and getting on - with the Rotherhithe Babes." 
For National Co-Production Week 2017, in leading the Later Life Programmes at the Mental Health Foundation, I’m making the commitment to continue co-producing any work we undertake. 

Our mission at MHF is to help people to thrive through understanding, protecting and sustaining their mental health; to partner and co-produce with communities is one of the six principles of our Thrive initiatives.

How we co-produce work in later life already

I manage the Standing Together Project. With funding from the Big Lottery Fund, we are facilitating 20 self-help groups in extra care and retirement housing schemes to address loneliness and wellbeing. The idea for the Standing Together project came from tenants wanting to join a previous project, which worked only with people with dementia. 

People who participate in Standing Together groups may have a learning disability, experience poor mental health, memory issues and / or be socially isolated.

At my interview for the role of project manager one of the panel had dementia. Three members of the panel were over 50, the age where MHF sees later life beginning.

We also have tenants as members of the project’s Advisory Group, one of whom lives with dementia and has made an impression on other stakeholders. He was frustrated as the group he attended was not being sustained after the six months of MHF staff facilitation and advocated for its continuation. Consequently, someone has been employed to continue the facilitation of that group.

Co-producing the future Development of Later Life Work at MHF

We are currently developing a Welsh version of Standing Together. At the very first planning meeting with partner organisations, tenants attended. Throughout the application, delivery and evaluation of the project, tenants will be central to co-producing the project. 

A database has been set up of people who are interested in co-producing MHF’s later life work. We will be asking people on the list what their priorities are for the future; to inform a new advisory group to co-produce and steer the direction of our work. 

Why co-production is important

Using co-production, to underpin MHF’s preventative public health plans in later life, means that we will continue to facilitate programmes that are both evidence-based and that people will want to access - to improve their quality of life and mental health. 

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