SCIE has been working with Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) to support them to understand and develop co-production.
Co-production is all about the sharing of power. The belief that if you ask people what they want, you will get a constructive answer; that professionals are not the font of all knowledge and that innovation can sit with people who access services and their families. Ultimately, we want people who use services to challenge professionals and tell them what is most important to them when designing those services.
As part of our work on co-production we set up Oxfordshire’s Co-production Board, which the group has named ‘Team-Up’. We asked them to define their vision of co-production and they said:
Co-production means people are involved in designing, delivering, reviewing and choosing a service, when that service affects the community.
The reason co-production is important is because when people who use services, their families and carers are involved in designing services it makes the services much better for people and more sustainable.
I recognise that using co-production is difficult and presents a significant challenge to the way we work. From the council’s perspective it means we have to be willing to relinquish ‘control’; to be prepared for the process to take longer in order for people’s input to be meaningful and to have confidence that they can design services within budget.
Many people are used to managing a budget and understand the realities of having a finite amount of money. Being open and honest about the amount of money available also means that people understand the challenges the council faces in balancing its budget.
We’ve received positive feedback from the people who’ve been involved in some of our initial co-production projects; with a good example being the work to redesign the way people transition from children’s to adult’s services.
Our overall experience has been that by involving people as partners in the design of services, they often think of solutions that we as professionals haven’t considered. Involving people in the design of services usually means that we’re likely to get it right first time.