The importance of Co-Production


Co-production is about the inclusion of people with lived experience of mental illness, as well as their partners, family and friends (who are all “Experts by Experience”) in the commissioning, planning and delivery of services as equal partners with service providers and professionals.

It is a well established approach, having been defined in the early 1970s in America, and drawing on a longer history of both community development and person-centred care.

Some work on co-production looks at the relationship between individual service users and providers. More commonly, co-production is concerned with the relationship between the whole service and its actual and potential beneficiaries, which includes:

• How Experts by Experience can be actively involved in the design and delivery of services, which is commonly called co-design and co-delivery;

• How people with lived experience can be involved in how commissioners plan, fund, manage and evaluate the overall programme of statutory, third sector and private services in a locality, which is referred to as co-commissioning.

John, who is an an expert by experience member for Norfolk and Waveney told us:

I’ve been a part of this programme for nearly a year now and had no clue about what co-production was before I started. Rethink has opened my eyes to how important it is to share my lived experience and that co-production is really needed. I have had the chance to work closely with other organisations, and I think its good that we are getting together and working as one, as each one brings new ideas to the table.

Thanks to my work on the reference group, I am now a member of the personality disorder and complex emotional needs workstream in the transformation programme and help to provide training about personality disorders to clinical staff. Being part of the reference group gave me the confidence to go for this, I don’t think I could have done this beforehand.

This work has given me new skills and a better understanding of how services work within the mental health sector. I was worried that I would struggle to see change happening, but I can honestly say that co-producing is bringing positive change not just in Norfolk and Waveney but all over England."

In 2016, the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health (5YFVMH) called for co-production to be adopted at every stage of the commissioning cycle in order that every person with a mental health problem should be able to say 'I am confident that the services I may use have been designed in partnership with people who have relevant lived experience.'

If you would like to find out more about the importance of co-production, why not register for our webinar on Thurs 7 July at 12 pm with our panel of Experts by Experience.  Email to register.