There is no one definition of co-production that everyone agrees on, as approaches to it are constantly developing and changing. The term “co-production” will mean different things to different people, but it is vital to listen and be responsive to the voices of people with lived experience in the design, delivery and review of systems and services for people experiencing multiple disadvantage.
This means a fundamental shift in the relationship between the people who traditionally design and fund services and the people that use them. Co-production is a process which recognises that it those with experience of how systems and services function who are the experts in knowing what works, and what does not.
Coproduction recognises that experience as an asset, empowers people with lived experience to be involved in decision-making and combines their expertise with that of other people in the system like commissioners, policymakers and frontline staff.
This can lead to improved and more sustainable solutions to complex issues and provide a therapeutic benefit to those involved. Meaningful co-production will require services and people across local systems to interrogate organisational culture and attitudes towards involving people with lived experience.
The main features of coproduction can be summarised within three underpinning principles:
- equality of access and contribution.
- genuine, ongoing involvement.
- and flexibility and openness throughout.
All of which involve creating an environment conducive to working together, breaking down boundaries, and building relationships.