Change that leads to better lives

Guest Blog by Siraaj Nadat from Changing Our Lives

We are pleased to introduce a guest blog on co-production by Siraaj Nadat, a Project Officer at Changing Our Lives.

Siraaj Nadat2

Siraaj Nadat is an experienced self-advocate who works as a Project Officer for Changing Our Lives. In the past Siraaj has worked as part of the monitoring and evaluation group for the Confidential Enquiry into the deaths of people with learning disabilities, has represented the West Midlands on the National Forum for People with Learning Difficulties and has sat on the advisory group for Healthwatch England. In partnership with Lucy Dunstan, Siraaj is developing 'Rights for All', a leadership programme for people with learning disabilities from Black and Minority Ethnic communities. This programme is the first of its kind in the UK.

Professionals and organisations say that “we are consulting with people”. Is this co-production? What is co-production?

Co-production is when people with disabilities and family carers are seen as equal partners when designing, developing, delivering and evaluating of any work.

Historically, professionals used to design and deliver a service, where people never used to have a say in how that service is developed and delivered. This resulted in a service that was hard to access or people had to use what was provided whether people liked it or not. Co-production puts people with disabilities, family carers and communities in the driving seat to steer and shape services better for the future.

Often professionals say, “We are doing all our work in co-production with people with disabilities”. If you would look deeper, they are only consulting with people. Another statement you might hear is “All our work is agreed and signed off by people with disabilities and family carers”. If you would look deeper again, you would find that people are just signing off something that they do not know anything about. This is not co-production at all. True co-production is when people are involved indesigning, developing, delivering and evaluating of any work continuously. It is important that people fully understand what is going on at every stage.

Co-production is very hard to do, e.g. getting the right people on board but, there are many benefits to this way of working. The main benefit is that the foundation of the work is correct right from the start and throughout the process. This will save time and money.

Other benefits are that people have a voice, they are seen as equal partners, they are respected and valued and seen as an ordinary citizen. This all leads to self confidence and a gateway to brighter prospects in life.

There are many examples of positive co-production work. Some of these are:

  • Health Self Assessment Framework: This was an annual Health Self Assessment Framework, to check how well every region in the country was delivering health services for people with disabilities. In one region, they had a team of people with disabilities, family carers and people from the Strategic Health Authority. The job of this team was to look at the validation forms from each area, to comment on these forms, to go on validation visits and to talk to appropriate leads in that area about their submission.
  • People's Parliament: This is about people with learning disabilities becoming MP’s in their local area. They focus on a specific subject area which they would like to see get better. They produce a white paper with current facts from around the country. This includes a number of recommendations and outcomes they would like to see. They present this white paper to a full parliament. Appropriate professionals attend and pledge to the outcomes in the white paper. Through select committees the MP’s are able to see the progress being made concerning the outcomes. Through this process, the MP’s can hold the professionals to account if these pledges are not being fulfilled.
  • Quality of Health Principles: There are many things that people should be receiving when accessing healthcare. These principles were developed by people with a range of disabilities including older people. In the interim report of Winterbourne view, one of the recommendations were that the principles were to be embedded into all NHS contracts ensuring that people receive high standards of healthcare. This meant that this was the first time people with disabilities influenced a contractual agreement.

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