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What is co-production?

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This is a term we hear often, along with co-design, co-develop, co-deliver and sometimes to make it even more confusing, to different groups and people it can mean different things! One observation the author of this blog often makes, is, ''Why does the answer to the complex end up being so complicated?''

We are honoured that over the years we have been asked to share our views  Now there is a part of us wants to be all clever and come up with some impressing explanation which will make others go WOW! But really, it's more common sense than complicated. For example:

You decide you want to bake a cake, you get all the best ingredients, the best recipe sweat hours in the kitchen producing this masterpiece and expect anyone you offer a slice to thoroughly enjoy it. You may co-design it with them by asking their opinion on the final icing, or, placement of choice fruits but overall the cake is baked eat it or leave it.

Whereas a group of people getting together to plan the making of a masterpiece of a cake, who have diverse experiences of cake, will help produce one delight all the senses; as not everyone can see your cake, some people may rely on smell. It will be composed of ingredients which people who have to watch their diet through diabetes, or celiac can enjoy. It will reflect what can be achieved on a low budget, as not everyone has the funds for the finest ingredients. In other words, it will be a better and more inclusive cake, people look forward to eating

So, if this can be achieved in baking a better cake, think about what can be achieved in developing improved services. Diverse opinions and experiences being harnessed towards a common goal of improved wellbeing, respecting all the experts in the room, isn't a fairy-tale, it can happen and in many places it does.

As with any situation which involves people there needs to be some way for everyone to feel included and that what they have to say matters. People may need support to do this. While often there are professionals with their own experiences; which are incredibly valuable to increase their empathy and compassion to do their job, we also need to make sure the other voices of lived experience who may struggle to find a place at the table, never mind a voice, are not lost.

A lot of the conversation around co-production is also about power, sharing power, and this can be a challenge, but if those who provide and those who use the services can park power, ego, the need for claiming who made this happen and instead decide' 'we made this happen' then real change is possible, we know, we see it every day at COPE Scotland as I am sure many others do also.

The challenge for agencies seeking to justify their funding is the need to claim we did it, the challenge for individuals seeking to develop their career is the need to claim I did it, if we can find new ways to recognise the value of organisations and individuals contributions to justify funding, support promotion, then maybe we can find ways to enable those supporting co-production to be recognised, but can remain hidden, so the real credit for change goes to the voices of lived experience and the communities where they live. At the end of the day, we are public servants our role is to serve the public. Interesting piece on servant leadership?

''When the best leader's work is done the people say, 'We did it ourselves.' ''

Lao Tzu
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
 

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