Opinions

Creating the space for co-production to flourish

Written by: Marianne Brennan, Development Officer, the ALLIANCE

Marianne Brennan shares her perspective of being at the start of a co-produced project and how the unknown brings both fear and delight.

Co-production is a phrase which when I first heard it, made me question what it really meant. We sometimes get caught up in language and new ‘buzzwords’ that it took me longer than I care to admit to understand fully that co-production is about working together as equals, using our strengths to create positive change.

I’m just about to embark on my journey of co-production with a new citizen led libraries project. Together with NHS Health Scotland, we will be creating a new citizen led collaborative service model to support self management and health literacy. This new project responds to the Christie Review call for collaboration and citizen leadership across public services.

The project is about bringing together citizens, public libraries, NHS and school libraries, health and social care professionals and the third sector as equal partners in new dynamic teams within a local authority area to further strengthen support for self management and health literacy.

In order for this project to be truly co-produced, I alone can’t honestly tell you what it’s going to look like at the end of two years. That to me is the beauty and what gives me the fear about co-production. I’m going to have to challenge my over thinking, planning and meeting briefs and instead look at how to create safe spaces for everyone to come together and explore ideas and possibilities. It’s important that this new project provides opportunities to look at our own strengths and work in partnership with a focus on self management and health literacy.

Does anyone else share my fear of not getting too ahead of myself? Where are the boundaries of keeping the project to plan but allowing all views to be expressed and discussed?

It’s looking set to be an interesting ride where we can learn together about how the project will work. What I believe is essential is the groundwork and relationship building which must be nurtured at the start. If we want everyone to feel valued, we need to get to know each other and develop a shared vision and understanding of the project. The values of co-production will be my guide. Sure, it might get messy but if at the end of this project we can demonstrate how we have strengthened support for self management and health literacy through co-production, then we will have been successful in creating that space where everyone was valued, listened to and felt they contributed to positive change in health and social care.

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