Sharing power in social care partnerships

Nathan Barnard, Operations and Quality Director, Happy Futures Support Specialists

Over the years, health and social care has seen many new ideas come and go. Consequently, many, when they look at co-production, think, oh, just another new fad, but co-production is far from that. The heart and central concept of co-production is working in partnership by sharing power between those who receive support and care, families, significant people, and those who provide support and care.

When co-production is done right, it empowers individuals to have a voice. It transforms care and support users from passive recipients to empowered and engaged people whose views and opinions are equally as important as anyone else. Consequently, such an approach requires a cultural shift, a change in mindset, that takes time but can be achieved through strategic planning and implementation, all of which should be done through co-production.

We at Happy Futures Support Specialists commenced this journey about a year ago, and it has been exciting to see the changes. Initially, we developed a shadow quality group to which all the individuals we support were invited. We provided easy-read invites and an agenda for the first meeting, during which a vote was done to nominate a co-chairperson.

Looking back over the past year, we have achieved so much. After the initial meeting, it was decided to meet monthly. The co-chairs, Ian, one of the individuals we support, and the quality director set the agenda. Invites are sent out before the meetings, and we all meet to discuss what is important. Since the first meeting, we have co-produced the company’s values: improving the quality of life, developing, and building new skills, partnership working and co-production, exceeding expectations, empowerment, and celebrating success.

As an organisation, we wanted the co-production team to work within our company’s quality framework; therefore, the shadow quality board assists with developing and checking things. Once we formulated the company values within co-production, we moved to our next phase, which we are excited to be implanting. Our values would be worthless if they did not apply to everyone at Happy Futures. Therefore, we are currently setting up a shadow board that allows us to work in co-production with all those who work at Happy Futures. This is because once a culture change has started, and co-production is embedded for those who receive support and care, it is only natural that we implement it with those who work at Happy Futures, as co-production becomes part of our organisation’s DNA.

Co-production is a valuable tool enabling an organisation to work in partnership with those who provide support and those who receive it. It is through co-production that a positive, empowering, and inclusive culture can be embedded within an organisation.

Therefore, where staff historically may have felt isolated, disenchanted, and disengaged from work, are now through co-production are engaged. We are now working with staff to remove barriers that are prevalent within all organisations, as power structures are dismantled and people are given a voice. It has been an exciting year; however, we know the next year will be equally challenging yet so rewarding. We still have a lot of work to do to dismantle old mindsets, but things happen as people embrace co-production and are empowered to work in partnership. So, what are you waiting for? Take the leap and start the co-production journey.


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