In co-production local people and professionals work alongside each other to design and deliver services. Partnerships are based on equal and reciprocal relationships. Co-production draws on the knowledge, experience, skills and hard work of local people as much as the expertise of professional providers.
It has been described as “a relationship where professionals and citizens share power to plan and deliver support together, recognising that both have vital contributions to make in order to improve quality of life for people and communities.”
There is no off-the-shelf formula for how to do it. But here are the six most commonly understood principles:
- Assets: transforming the perception of people from passive recipients of services and burdens on the system into one where they are equal partners in designing and delivering services
- Capacity: altering the delivery model of public services from a deficit approach to one that recognises and grows people’s capabilities and actively supports them to put them to use at an individual and community level
- Mutuality: offering people a range of incentives to engage, enabling them to work in reciprocal relationships with professionals and each other, with shared responsibilities and expectations
- Networks: engaging peer and personal networks alongside professionals as the best way of transferring knowledge.
- Blur roles: removing tightly defined boundaries between professionals and recipients, and between producers and consumers of services, by reconfiguring the ways in which services are developed and delivered
- Catalysts: enabling public service agencies to become facilitators rather than central providers themselves.
Who benefits from co-production?
Everyone benefits – local people, professionals and the community. Research has demonstrated the benefits of co-production. For example in mental health participants gained a greater sense of belonging, improved their connections with local groups and strengthened their relationships with peers, family and friends. In one case 90 per cent of participants reported reduced isolation. Participants also say they experienced less stigma from mental health professionals and the wider community. Co-production also improved their skills and access to education, and made them more employable. But local people aren’t the only ones to benefit. At a time of increasing financial pressures, co-production can make services more effective and increase capacity. This in turn can improve staff morale.
West London Collaborative runs a number of workshops through out the year to help local people and professionals explore the differences between co-production and user involvement. They learn how authentic co-production enables them to achieve more together.