Sarah's blog

Hi, my name is Sarah, I am an Expert by Experience from Telford. I live with various disabilities two being Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus resulting in me being a full-time wheelchair user. I have received support from adult social care services my entire adult life.  I am a lived experience volunteer for Telford and Wrekin Council where I have been on the Making it Real Board since January 2020 and in the position of the Co-Chair of the board since July 2023. I am also a member of the (WM-ADASS) Regional Co-Production Advisory Group.

What is Co-Production?

At its core, co-production is about removing power dynamics to create a more balanced relationship between people who use Health and Social Care services and the people who work within them. It is a collaborative effort where people with a wide variety lived experience and insights work alongside professionals. The key to successful co-production is to truly embrace the approach and the values it represents.

  • It breaks down the barriers between the people who are experts with lived experience and the professionals who work within health and social care services.
  • It builds on an individual’s existing skills and capabilities.
  • It combines co-operation where contributions are made to achieve common goals

By focusing on these principles, co-production can shape the way all services are delivered and ensures the people receiving services have a positive experience.

Why is Co-Production week so important?

Co-production week is so important as it highlights the significance of co-production and creates an opportunity for people who use health and social care services and health and social care professionals to come together to discuss how they can be productive to actively improve services for local communities and get their voices heard.

What’s missing?

This year the topic for Co-Production week is “What’s missing in Co-production”.

Health and Social care services want to help people who use services to live a normal life but often we feel like we’re battling with professionals who feel they know what is best for us. The Health & Care Act 2022 talks about co-production and allowing people to lead on their personalised care plans but often enough we are challenged with the choices we want to make. It’s important for Adult Social care services to look at what they’re learning from people who do things differently and the risks we want to take. I wanted control of who comes to provide my support and who I want in my house and decided to recruit my own PA. This means less work for the local authority to do, and it’s also more cost effective.  I now get continuity when it comes to my support.

What is missing in co-production is allowing people who have the capacity to make their own decisions, to do so whether they prove to be good or bad.

Professionals may not agree with our decisions, but they are our decisions to make, if it turns out to be a bad decision or something doesn’t go to plan, we then need someone to be kind and compassionate to support us to correct it or find an alternative solution and not have an “I told you so” attitude.

The Health & Care Act 2022 also promotes the benefits of equality and equity.  I do think we’re improving how Social Care is delivered and how peoples voices are heard. Where we could do better is by listening to what the individual wants and don’t compare one person who accesses a service to another, both will have different reasons for needing to access the same services and this should be respected rather than compared!

What I want to see is productive use of Making it Real Boards which demonstrates meaningful co-production that utilise the expertise individuals have in the group.