New times for co-production at C4CC

Fiona Carey

Fiona Carey blogs about her time with the Coalition for Collaborative Care’s co-production team.

New times at the Coalition for Collaborative Care. With NHSE’s publication of Universal Personalised Care, and the plan to make personalised, patient-centred care business as usual in the NHS life, coproduction within C4CC will be represented in the future by patients and carers already ‘embedded’ in the Partner Organisations.

This probably makes sense, but a general caution is required I think. There has been much celebration, and rightly, about the NHS’s widespread ‘adoption’ of personalised care, and about its insistence that this will be at the heart of ‘everything we do’. Heavens knows, we’ve spent long enough trying to make it so. But having a plan for a thing isn’t the same as having the thing in place. It won’t be done until it’s done. And with the massive problems caused by staff shortages, it’s hard to see a painless swift roll-out of such a huge, if important, initiative. It is fantastically important to bear in mind that adopting a widespread initiative doesn’t in itself actually deliver the changes it aims to engender. It won’t be in place until every patient has a good experience, has the best available care, has the best possible outcome, every time.

I’ve been thrilled to work with The Coalition for Collaborative Care since its inception, and proud to have been part of an organisation that has not only championed but modelled co-production. The organisation was established by a group of people absolutely committed to the idea that people with long term conditions – and who necessarily have lots of experience of services – have probably got a pretty good idea about what those services ought to look like, and that they should be working with and alongside healthcare professionals on an equal footing. ‘We know things you don’t know. We see things you don’t see.’ It seems pretty obvious, eh?

It’s earliest planners – managers, clinicians and health care professionals – were absolutely determined to put co-production at the heart of how the Coalition worked, and were talented at getting people from many difference organisations and walks of life to work together. And between us we made stuff that wasn’t just a messy compromise (always tempting, but never advisable), but that was hammered out, gleaning the best of everyone’s input, and melded it into something workable.

It hasn’t always been comfortable, but that’s one of the famous lines about co-production: if it feels comfortable, it probably isn’t co-production.

The patients and carers who came forward – often dubbed ‘experts by experience’ – were an astonishing bunch of people, with the most amazing range of skills, knowledge, expertise and – in most cases – years of experience working alongside professionals to improve services. They were vocal and sometimes they were arsey. I was daunted by their know-how, and I learnt lots from them. It was rarely ‘comfortable’, but it was positive, affirmative, we got a lot done, and we often had good fun on the way. Good grief, it’s been a privilege.

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