Co-production in social care: What it is and how to do it
Practice example: My Way
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About the project
My Way is a project to support the transition of young disabled people from children and young people's services to adult services. It is run by MacIntyre, a national charity that supports people with learning disabilities.
Within the wider work of My Way, the team have worked on a project in partnership with Derbyshire County Council to develop new ways of transition planning. This has involved holistic, person-centred support planning using facilitators in a brokerage role and having a focus on outcomes. Young disabled people are involved in co-producing the service, including developing training.
What has co-production meant to the project?
Co-production has meant developing a new concept, building relationships on the basis of equality and showing that people can make a contribution based on their experiences. It is about involving and working with young people, not just 'doing to' them.
What has helped to implement a co-production approach?
Having financial resources has been important to the project. It has made it possible to pay for transport to bring young people to meetings and for refreshments.
The project has been able to build on the person-centred culture of MacIntyre where staff feel they can be open in meetings and where their contributions and ideas are encouraged. It has been able to develop work that has been taking place in schools and worked with parents' groups to embed the concepts of personalisation and co-production.
What difficulties were there in implementing co-production?
It takes a long time to build confidence so that people feel they can co-produce services. Against a background of cuts in resources, people ask themselves whether it is worth investing the time in co-production and whether they will be listened to. Cut-backs can mean that the system goes back to being inflexible.
What are the main strengths in the approach that has been taken?
The responsibility to put co-production into action is part of a senior role in MacIntyre, which gives it value and avoids an assumption that co-production will just happen. The skills of the people involved and the opportunity to be creative have given the project strength. There has been a clear sense for the organisation of 'we know where we are going and what we are doing rather than working to rigid targets'.
What have been the main outcomes of the project?
All the people involved have become experts in their own right and have pushed the agenda of personalised services forward. Young disabled people have moved on from school to take up opportunities in keeping with what they want to do in their lives. These opportunities have to be within the available budget but they are more imaginative and flexible than those previously offered.
How has the project worked to engage all sections of the community?
The project has completed an equality impact assessment, which has identified a number of areas for engagement. As a result, the Gypsy and Traveller community are now engaged and the project has reached out to young disabled people leaving care.
What advice would the project give to others?
- Co-production is hard work but very worthwhile as it leads to much better outcomes for people.
- It is important to think about what will help co-production, including good communication and meeting access needs.
- It is good to break everything that needs to be done down into clear actions.
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- Co-production in social care: What it is and how to do it
- Co-production in social care: What it is and how to do it - easy read