2.10 The challenges of co-production
Co-production means delivering public services in an equal and reciprocal relationship between professionals, people using services, their families and their neighbours. Where activities are co-produced in this way, both services and neighbourhoods become far more effective agents of change.
In their 2009 report The Challenge of Co-production , Boyle and Harris suggest that systemic or widespread change in the delivery of services will not happen if service users continue to be passive recipients, with their skills and experience ignored. How can we move towards co-designed and co-produced services in Scotland?
Activity 2.8: The panel event
Listen to the panel discussion about examples of the benefits and challenges of co-production in Scotland. It considers what the limits of self-directed support are, and asks What if a service user does not want self-directed support at all? One aspect of co-production that the panel discusses is ‘ local area coordination ’. Local area coordinators work alongside communities to support them to be welcoming and inclusive, and with people with learning disabilities and their families to promote confidence and independence.
Use your learning log to make notes on what you hear. What do you think might be the challenges of co-production in relation to your own experience of/employment in health and social care?
Your notes will, of course, relate to your own experiences. A series of workshops in Scotland facilitated by Governance International and the Joint Improvement Team identified a range of challenges about co-production, including a lack of confidence in the ability of public sector managers to know how to enable individuals and communities to tackle their problems themselves. Their report of the events emphasises that co-production cannot be tokenistic:
The term co-production should be reserved for situations in which there are high levels of involvement from service users and communities, along with high levels of professional inputs. High involvement from service users or communities alone is not enough – when coupled with low professional involvement, this is simply self-help or self-organising and NOT co-production.
This is an important thought to hold on to. Co-production has, it can be argued, become a bit of a 'buzz word', and may be applied to a very wide range of types of relationships between service users and service providers. Co-production is not only about listening to people's views and taking them into account (though both are, of course, important); it goes much further, requiring the development of 'equal' and 'reciprocal' relationships between professionals and service users so that they can make things happen together.
We have emphasised co-production as an equal and reciprocal relationship between service user and service provider. You may also have thought about what happens when service providers and service users have very different ideas about, for example, somebody's safety? Or when service providers exert their legal powers to protect somebody from harm when that individual does not want a service? We explore these questions in more detail in Section 4 of this unit.