Harnessing users’ expertise in the delivery of services – or “co-production” – is central to the government’s agenda for transforming adult social care, care services minister Phil Hope said this week.
Hope made the claim at a conference on personalisation organised by Community Care, in conjunction with the Department of Health and the Social Care Institute for Excellence.
Scie launched a briefing on co-production at Wednesday’s conference highlighting its benefits and calling for care staff to receive training in co-productive methods.
Users have assets and expertise
The briefing defined co-production as a way of working which treated users as having assets and expertise which can help improve services, rather than as passive recipients of care.
Examples include the Commission for Social Care Inspection’s experts by experience programme, which involves service users in the inspection of services, and the involvement of some users in the delivery of social work degree programmes.
Hope told the conference: “I don’t like this jargon, but co-production is a central part of the jigsaw [of personalisation].”
Association of Directors of Adult Social Services president John Dixon agreed, adding: “Personalisation entails a paradigm shift in how we think about care and co-production is a part of it.”
First year of personalisation
The conference, organised in conjunction with Scie and the Department of Health, marked the end of the first year of the DH’s three-year Putting People First programme to personalise care for older and disabled adults.
Dixon told the conference that providers needed to work on a smaller scale with users and their families to make a reality of co-production.
Naaps (formerly the National Association of Adult Placement Services), an umbrella body for smaller providers, has been funded by the DH to run a two-year pilot in Oldham and Kent to stimulate the development of small providers and sustain them in the adult care market.
Small providers forced to close
Its chief executive, Sian Lockwood, said: “Micro providers offer choice and flexibility to people needing support and services. For personal budgets to be meaningful, people need choice. But the way in which services are supported, regulated and commissioned has forced many good micro services to close.”
She gave a number of examples from the pilots, including that of Wayne, who is physically disabled. He qualified as a driving instructor and has an adapted car so that others with physical impairments can learn to drive. “He struggled to market his service to potential customers and nearly gave up. The project has supported him to get start-up funding and market himself effectively.”
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