Keymn's blog

Co-production week blog-The rising of Lived Experience leadership!

What’s missing!

As a black woman who was a former unpaid carer and who is currently a Lived Experience Advisor and coach, co-production week is very important to me. It gives me the opportunity to sit back and reflect on the power dynamics that still need to be addressed in the health and care system. My career path has been shaped by my Lived Experience.  I was my mother’s carer for 23 years and used co-production techniques to bring social care and health professionals together to ensure my mom could live her best life! Although she couldn’t talk or walk, she still had methods of communicating.

 I was unfamiliar with the term co-production until I was recruited via the “Making It Real” initiative at Solihull Metropolitan Council in 2013.  

When I think about the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) theme of co-production 2024 “What’s missing?” I initially struggle due to seeing and being part of some amazing transformation programmes such as West Midlands ADASS Peer Challenges, TLAP’s Making Real Statements, NHSE Integrated Personal Commissioning and National Voices, Voices for Improvement leadership development coaching programme.

Reflecting on what’s missing  

Firstly, let me address the Sharing of Power, it’s so easy to say but so difficult to do for some! To do this we must understand that co-production opens the doors to radical approaches, working in a different way which can be unsettling for some and empowering for others! Sharing power contributes to the development of a person’s skills and confidence whoever they are! What tends to happen in the co-production space for Lived Experience members is an organisation choosing to share power as and when it suits the organisation.  People want real influence over the decisions that will be made about them. We don’t want a consultative role.

To share power with people with Lived Experience we must meet people where they’re at. Organisations need to be upskilled in cultural intelligence. As a black woman I often know my journey is very different to most of the leaders I’m speaking to in the room due to the lack of diversity in leadership!  At times this can affect the ability to articulate the importance of the community messages.  We must remind ourselves that people from different backgrounds feel their voices are never heard so may find it difficult to challenge those in power. When we ask what’s happening in the space of sharing power, we no longer want to hear we know it’s a problem what I want to hear is, this is what we’re want to do about it- no more politician answers please!

 As a former unpaid carer, I would like to see something in place for bereaved carers. It’s now been 4 years since I last cared but it is only now that I’ve started the grieving process. It’s imperative that peers and colleagues understand that a carers journey doesn’t come to end when the person they care for dies.  My mom may be missing but what I’ve learnt certainly hasn’t gone away! Bereaved carers must reinvent ourselves and find our confidence in co-production spaces whilst not feeling like an imposter.