Co-production is a set of core values, principles and approaches that can be used to transform the way social care and mental health support are designed and delivered. This can happen on both individual and collective levels.
On the individual level, co-production can be described as a collaborative relationship between the people who use services and the practitioner (be it a social worker, personal assistant, teacher or housing officer). By emphasising the importance of communication and negotiation between frontline staff and the people who use services, it offers an alternative to the gatekeeping and ‘gift’ models of care based on resource eligibility, or care and support delivery based on tasks. The emphasis is on power sharing, relationships and mutual respect for knowledge and expertise.
Assessment and support planning provide a primary opportunity for practitioners, services users and potentially family, friends and other supporters to work together co-productively to define goals and outcomes and to design the support needed to achieve these. This can happen in any social care or mental health context, be it self-directed support planning for personal budget or direct payment use in the community, or in the context of residential care (Sanderson and Lewis, 2011). To be co-productive, the practice should be informed by Edgar Cahn’s (2004) core values of having an asset perspective, nurturing reciprocity and building social capital. Person-centred, strengths-based and recovery approaches in mental health all have the potential to reflect these core values in assessment and support planning. For example, in mental health:
Source: Co-production with individuals: key advice for social workers : Community Care