Co-production – Reflections of good practice
"There is a lack of consistency across organisations, from my perspective it really needs to come top down, the whole way through, people need to be shouting about it from the very top!"
There is an abundance of brilliant practice and examples of co-production across the network. Every month through the Conversations on Co-production, people with lived experience, frontline workers from services for people experiencing disadvantage (homelessness, health, addiction, etc), and individuals within various roles in local authorities share their wisdom and offer advice on overcoming barriers.
Here’s a taster of some of the great co-production practice across organisations, some areas for potential improvement, and advice for those starting their co-production journey. What do you think?
Great examples - involving customers in co-producing recruitment, service delivery and monitoring and outcome
"We have had people involved in recruiting for the new chair of the board recently, we have put a new KPI out saying 85% of all recruitment across the organisation has to have some form of involvement…somebody with lived experience has to be a part of that panel as well."
"Once the contract was awarded to the contractors who won the bid, we continued with the co-production group that we had for the entire process, so for the development or service specifications, stakeholder meetings, service user involvement, everything, and they were actually part of the development of the KPI's, so of the outcomes, which was really interesting because what they found important in their service was very different to what I found important as a commissioner."
"Sometimes it was tricky, because we have to be realistic and there are some measurements that we can't not do because we need them for statistics, for funding, various reasons, but I think having our provider, us and the service users working together on establishing the outcomes, or part of them anyway, made the whole process a lot more transparent as to why we are doing this and why we are asking for this information."
"We have identified with our research partners from the project (1) that there is quite a lot of room for co-producing monitoring and outcome measures and work with clients, so what is a measure of success? What is a way that shows the service we are commissioning is in fact delivering a positive, constructive, useful outcome for you? How do we measure that when the ultimate goal may be two or three years down the line?"
(1) Fulfilling Lives Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham
"It's really good to get service user input into why we are not achieving outcomes, because it might be because it is not meeting their needs, or because there is no facility for them to do what we want them to do, which then means we can adapt the outcomes as we go, because we don’t want to set up providers and service users to fail with outcomes that are not achievable."
"Previously we have had annual surveys that have been developed with the groups, it's not just been us sat in the office developing those. Annual events and things of interest to our services. Also trying to improve the number of people who get to choose new staff, so staff recruitment is something really big. There has been some really good progress and success in the last year or so, and we aim to keep the group going, we are pretty much the only group that do that in our organisation…"
The challenge - integrating co-production throughout an organisation
We are striving to make sure co-production is integrated throughout the organisation, from top to bottom and all the way through. Otherwise, if the responsibility for co-production is left to one creative person, and that person leaves, organisations go back to square one.
"It does seem at the moment (co-production) depends on having those creative, innovative, passionate brains that are willing to be brave."
"The challenging thing is there are such differing levels of understanding of what co-production means across different services, it is so dependent often on the contract manager, and how much they embed it as part of the culture, a lot of the things we are coming up against is people seeing co-production as doing a customer activity once a week, and it is not that at all…"
‘The lack of consistency across the whole organisation, from my perspective it really needs to come top down, whole way through, people need to be shouting about it from the very top, it can't just be on middle level co-production team, it needs to come from everywhere because otherwise there are always going to be pockets and it is a shame for people who move between our different services and have a really great experience then move to the next one and it is not quite the same. Make sure it is consistent."
Wisdom – Learn from others and get buy-in
Great ways to learn is through sharing best practice across teams and networks, joining or developing forums where you can share ideas, innovation and co-production related documents. And it always helps to get buy in from organisations who are serious about embedding co-production effectively.
"In my opinion, why would I reinvent the wheel if someone else is already doing it? It makes no sense. (organisation) likes reinventing the wheel over and over again in various things and I don’t know how we break the cycle…"
"With services particularly, people will be creating the same templates for the same documents over and over again, so at the moment I am trying to create more of a network of every service having a co-production champion that my team can go to and we can collect everything to make templates for people, saving them a bit of time. It is a process, and it is too dependent on those individuals who are really passionate and then they leave the organisation and then the service goes back to square one and it is frustrating and difficult, so we try and make it a bit more centralised so that it is not so dependent on those individuals in services…"
"In our health and social care organisation, we have a forum which is about as close to co-production as we are getting at the moment, there are still all sort of things that stop it from being properly co-produced, but we bring together lots of people across services. We had a hybrid meeting around improvement projects within our organisations, it really works well, lots of people have really good input, we are able to form recommendations, and then it tends to fall on myself or my colleague to try and push those things through, but we have helped to make some massive changes in the last year, so we have helped to bring about a new system for reviewing services which has been developed with our group."
“It is clear that co-production has come so far within the past few years, and yet there is still a way to go until it is seen as an integral part of consultation and decision making, and not treated as a tick box exercise. Some of this difficulty comes from a lack of resource and time or buy in from top level of organisations. If we are serious about co-production, all levels need to ensure that support and resource are in place to enable teams and individuals to work efficiently and innovatively.”
What do you think? We would love to hear your ideas on best practice, challenges and wisdom on co-production. You can email us at email@example.com
If you are wanting some pointers on getting started with co-production, check out Expert Links videos