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

How to do co-production - Review

Co-production should not be seen as a one-off activity. Successful co-production will introduce changes to systems that will lead to the ongoing review, development and delivery of new forms of support. Co-production therefore benefits from a culture of continuous learning about what has worked and what has not worked. This subsection looks at how to achieve this.

Review is a key part of the management of any organisational change. It is important for:

Review and evaluation are an essential part of any co-production initiative [20], to be carried out with people who use services. [73] Review and evaluation may focus, for example, on a particular service or project, on a developing programme of co-production, or on annual performance of an organisation in relation to its ongoing commitment to co-production.

It is important to ‘measure what matters’. Better outcomes for people who use services and carers are a key aim of co-productive approaches, so these should be evaluated for example – in particular the outcomes that people who use services actually want. The contribution a project or initiative makes to developing new approaches should also be taken into account. [41]

Looking at outcomes and processes should help the development of co-productive approaches but there have been very few full evaluations of co-production initiatives. [74] Indeed, SCIE only found a few evaluations of co-production meeting the criteria required for the review of the evidence that was carried out for this guide. So there needs to be more evaluations of co-production, and a focus on the efficiency as well as the effectiveness of co-production. [74]

Evaluation also needs to focus on the actual difference that co-production makes to people’s lives. [20]

Regular reviews

It is helpful to regularly review the aims of co-production and the principles being used to achieve those aims. [21]

Regular co-production audits could be introduced that look at:

Co-production of reviews and evaluations

Co-producing a project with people who use services has a powerful effect on all aspects of the project. And it helps the project to focus on the experiences and expectations of everyone involved, adding authenticity to the reporting of the findings of the project. [75*]

Co-production fits well with the idea of empowering people and involving people who use services in evaluation. But it is rarely used in policy analysis and evaluation. [76]

Evaluation of co-production should themselves be co-produced. [41]

Think Local Act Personal’s Making it Real approach to personalised services and co-production includes a requirement for service providers to obtain feedback from people who use services every six months. This approach includes a set of progress markers that have been co-produced with people who use services and carers. They are then able to measure progress towards personalised support. It is a requirement of the programme that all organisations that are signed up to it develop an action plan and report on progress on the plan every six months. [4]

SCIE has looked at key areas to evaluate in participation by people who use services and carers. It noted that evaluations tend to focus on the process of participation rather than its impact. But both need to be evaluated so that they can be improved. This also applies to co-production. With co-production, though, it can be more difficult to evaluate the impact of co-production than its processes. [19]


  • Carry out regular reviews to ensure that co-production is making a real difference and that the process is following the agreed principles.
  • Co-produce reviews and evaluations.
  • Use the review findings to improve ways of applying the principles of co-production, so that continuous learning is taking place.
  • During reviews and evaluations, work with people who use services and carers, to think about ways of showing the impact that co-production has, as well as the processes that are involved.


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