Welcome to another blog by Matthew Mckenzie unpaid carer for someone close. Most of my website focuses on unpaid carers caring for someone with mental health needs and healthcare in general. I do not just often blog and post, I try to be active out in the community. I have been runinng carer strategy forums close to 4 years to seek co-production and engagement from those who provide health and social care.
Engagement from my local mental health trust has been fairly good, although getting people’s time is not easy, but engagement from commissioners is even more difficult, perhaps not enough staff perhaps. Co-production with the CCG’s and council has been very slow and sometimes I am wondering if it is valued, although I hear of some good works, I still feel its lacking.
Did you know that from the 5th of July it is National Co-Production week? This is the week were those who use services and their unpaid carers can use their voices to express what they know or want to understand about co-production. It is also a chance for health professionals to showcase their co-production examples and also learn how to increase co-production.
What is co-production?
Unfortunately co-production can be a loose term and is used all too frequently. To strip it down to its basic premise. It could be defined as “users of a system joining together to influence the way that services are designed, commissioned and delivered”. Still, such a term cannot be agreed by everyone and the meaning of co-production might chance over time.
Even more importantly, co-production aims to shift the culture of power towards the end users, because the problem is what health commissioners and designers feel on who is experienced to create policies and commission services. It sometimes is not always health professionals and commissioners fault, as co-production becomes difficult if only a few users want to be involved.
This is one of the reasons why National co-production week helps to try educate others on the importance of co-production. It should be a time where patients and carers focus on what we can do, rather than what is always being done to us.
A culture problem
Health services, social care and psychiatry often suffer from a problem of a top down organisational structure. Only the experts know best and there is pressure for them to produce results. If its not about saving costs and producing quality results, its also the culture of the health professionals being highly educated to know what is best. History unfortunately has shown the mistakes where the culture of who knows best can do untold amount of damage to the community. The culture barrier can stop/limit the end user or community from using their voices to get involved and tackle inequalities of health and social care.
Too often health professionals and commissioners have the idea that because the end user was not educated about health and social care, that some health experts feel end users do not have anything to contribute. The policies, practices and principles are guarded for dear life and the impact on the community is limited.