By Nadia Brookes, ARC KSS Co-production Theme Lead & Patient and Public Involvement Strategic Lead

This week, the Social Care Institute for Excellence who started National Co-production Week (3-9 July) released the results of a survey conducted to answer the question: How do social care staff working in adult social care and people with lived experience compare in their understanding of co-production, its principles, and processes?

The report raises a number of important issues and although focused on the co-production of social care services still has relevance for people involved in research in both health and social care settings.

The survey found that familiarity with the term co-production was highest within the NHS, Local Authorities and not-for-profit organisations. This was much lower for the private sector and among those working for an agency.

The key barriers to co-production staff experienced were time, organisational culture, cost and communication. There was also evidence of misunderstanding of what co-production is or involves.

Issues were raised about the inclusiveness and representativeness of co-production. There was distrust and disillusionment with co-production, because of the incorrect use of the term, so it had become diluted and lost meaning.

People also referred to ‘co-production for the sake of co-production’, describing it as a box-ticking exercise. These are some of the issues that we, at the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration Kent, Surrey and Sussex (ARC KSS), are also grappling with.

The report makes some recommendations, some of which chime with how we hope to make a difference in this area.

Below, you'll find some of the recommendations from the report and what ARC KSS aim to do:

  • It is crucial that sufficient resources are allocated towards co-production, ensuring staff have time to carry this out.

We will identify sources or allocate funding for the start of the research process so that relationships can be built and embedded.

  • Training and development should focus on new starters in the sector, but also be repeated to allow for best practice examples and learnings to be shared amongst all staff.

We will develop and embed the skills and values needed for successful co-production from the start of research careers by working with ARC KSS PhD students and Early Career Researchers.

  • There should be investment in grassroots organisations who are already connected to people with lived experience and organisations who are doing co-production well.

We will work with communities, patient groups, the community and voluntary sector by supporting them to build research capacity.

  • To avoid misinterpretation and misunderstanding, a consistent definition of co-production needs to be shared widely, with practical examples that bring the skills, values, and behaviours of co-production to life.

We will develop a shared understanding of what working together looks like, expectations, requirements and impact.

  • To ensure effective outcomes, more needs to be done to reach out to diverse communities so that people’s needs are met, and all voices are heard.

We will encourage and support research that reflects the priorities and experiences of those facing inequalities, and a focus on methods that are more likely to lead to a wide range of voices being heard and valued.

Hopefully, in time, we can reach a point where co-production is integrated throughout all areas of work of ARC KSS.

A full copy of the report can be found here.


Recite Me Accessibility Tools