Co-production in social care: What it is and how to do it

About this guide

The term ‘co-production’ dates from the 1970s and has more recently become a new way of describing working in partnership by sharing power with people using services, carers, families and citizens.

This guide is about how to do co-production in social care. The guide was co-produced with a Project Advisory Group, which included people who use services, carers, a commissioner from a local authority, policy development professionals and staff from the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE). The guide aims to answer the following question: How do organisations work effectively in a co-productive way?

Overview and how to use the guide

Who the guide is for

Evidence used for the guide

The guide is based on three sources of evidence:

There are 12 practice examples referred to in the guide from the following organisations:

They represent a range of organisations and projects using co-production in social care. Many have used co-production approaches to develop new and innovative services. Further details of the practice examples are in Appendix 2 and a full account of each example is given in Co-production Practice Examples.

How the guide is organised

The guide is organised into two sections:

How the guide was produced and NHS Evidence Accreditation

SCIE has produced this guide in a way that meets the requirements for NHS Evidence Accreditation.

The process began with a scope of published research and reports on co-production and related issues. The Health Services Management Centre at the University of Birmingham then reviewed 15 of the documents identified by the scope. These were based on empirical studies and had been published in peer-reviewed journals.

The reviewed documents most closely met the research quality requirements for accredited guides but on their own did not produce sufficient information on which to base a full guide to co-production. The guide therefore includes reference to other research and reports.

In addition to drawing on written resources, SCIE commissioned reviews of 12 practice examples to ensure that the guide includes current practice on co-production in social care. The practice examples represent a range of different social care services and include examples from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Finally, the guide was produced in conjunction with a Project Advisory Group, which followed the requirements of NHS Evidence Accreditation. This included the group identifying the key question at the core of this guide: How do organisations work effectively in a co-productive way? The group also reviewed recommendations for the guide, identified additional issues that needed to be covered by the recommendations where there was insufficient evidence and commented on drafts of the guide.

The practice examples, together with the evidence review, the broader literature and the contributions from members of the Project Advisory Group have been put together to form the guide.


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