Embedding co-production at all levels of care

Margaret DangoorMargaret Dangoor, member of C4CC’s co-production group shares her experiences of helping to deliver co-production at a local level in celebration of national co-production week (2-6 July 2018) #coproweek.

In all the fanfare around the 70th anniversary of our wonderful NHS, it may have been easy to miss that it’s also been National Co-Production Week.

In PR terms, it could indeed be seen as an unfortunate clash, but as someone who has been promoting the principles of co-production on both a national and local level for a number of years, I take the opposite view.

If the NHS and our social care services are to continue to prosper and improve for the next 70 years and beyond then we need to firmly embed the principles of co-production at all levels of care.

It’s a model for the future and I’m heartened to see that it is gaining traction within NHS England and in many different local authority areas.

I have been actively involved for nearly 30 years in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. Initially I was involved in the community and voluntary sector, then focused on the development and chairing of statutory patient participation groups.  On becoming a carer for my husband who developed Alzheimer’s disease I became particularly involved with representing the voice of users and carers within the local NHS and borough health and social care services, whether at strategic level, influencing commissioning – or monitoring provision.  I am also currently chair of a local health centre’s patient and public involvement forum.

I’m pleased to say that Richmond was an early adopter of co-production several years ago and marked the national week with publicity around the work that is being carried out, particularly with carers.

“Involving the users of care and support services, and their families and carers in making decisions about how their care is delivered empowers them to be able to live full, independent lives,” was a quote from Cllr Piers Allen, Cabinet Member for Adult Services and Health.  I cared for my husband Eddie for many years until he sadly passed away in January of this year and was grateful for good local support, particularly a specialist dementia day centre and a Caring Café supported by the local authority.

From personal experience, I found that being able to have a say and being listened to is so important in end of life care. Properly planning for the final few weeks, in liaison with the family GP practice, when medical intervention was limited but supportive was so beneficial.

Following a short stay in hospital and discharge, we made a conscious decision that it was not in my husband Eddie’s best interest and agreed a plan as to how he would see out his final days in the community, with compassionate care and dignity.

I firmly believe that having a good death is an important part of having a good life, and the principles of co-production are so relevant in this area.

I’m determined to carry on this work locally as chair of the health centre patient participation group and my other local health and social care involvement.  I am also involved with social care research, through the NIHR school of social care research and the personal social services research unit based at the London School of Economics and Political Science, as well as my national involvement on the C4CC co-production group and as a trustee of the Centre for Ageing Better.  I also volunteer for Carers UK and the Alzheimer’s Society.

I think it is true to say that NHS England can promote and support strategies around co-production, but it needs to work at a local level and that is happening both in Richmond and other areas across the country so it is great to get both perspectives; in fact, it is essential.

The benefits of collaborative working across the health and social care system and using community assets to deliver care are a fundamental part of C4CC’s Three Cs and are so important as we celebrate the past successes of the NHS and build a service for the future.

 

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