What is co-production?Although exact definitions often vary, in social care, co-production means working together with people who have lived experiences, which could be a learning disability or mental health need, from ideation through to creation. This collaboration is in equal partnership, and helps professionals to design, deliver, review and evaluate services to ensure that the best care and support are provided to meet people’s needs.The Care act of 2014 included co-production in its guidance and suggests that it should be an integral part of implementing care.Introducing co-production at an organisational level can be complex, as every element of the organisation could be re-evaluated using the guidance from care service users and carers.How is it different from involvement?In involvement, people with lived experience are mostly consulted on things already designed and planned. In co-production they are engaged from the start in decision making, designing, creating or planning and are an intrinsic part of this process and the original idea formation. They are engaged in a task or action from the start to the end. It is not ‘we said, you did’ but ‘we said, we did’.Why is it important for social care?Armed with comprehensive feedback, care providers like Ambient can proactively adapt and develop their services in direct response to the needs of staff and the people supported.Working in this way has well researched positive benefits and outcomes for service users, staff members and organisations, such as:Improved self-confidence, self-worth, health & wellbeing for people who draw on care and support. As well as this, we have seen greater engagement, trust & satisfaction with their support provider and a new-found real voice for change.Staff members feel improved job satisfaction and motivation. Co-production breaks down barriers and also allows them to experience higher levels positive engagement with people supported.For organisations, outcomes include higher customer satisfaction, more motivated staff, increased capacity for change and innovation.What does effective involvement and co-production entail?According to the SCIE, effective co-production can be broken down into four areas: Culture, Structure, Practice and Review.Culture: co-production should be embedded within the culture of an organisation, which includes a mutual understanding of what co-production is and a clear set of guidelines for how to implement it and how it will be communicated.Structure: Include everyone who will be taking part in the co-production process from the start, ensuring they are rewarded and feel valued throughout. Work with and build upon structures and resources that are already in place.Practice: Make accessibility a top priority so that everyone is able to get involved, which also includes providing the right information in the right format for each person taking part. Support people to develop relevant co-production skills, and give plenty of time, resources and flexibility to frontline staff who want to use co-production methods.Review: Carry out regular reviews to evaluate effectiveness, ensuring these are co-produced. Use findings to continually develop and improve co-production practices.What does co-production look like at Ambient?Ambient Support is committed to incorporating co-production and involvement values into practice. They are an essential part of the core beliefs and values that define Ambient. We are working towards embedding co-production and involvement into all our systems, processes and staff work practice. Examples of this are involving people we support in recruitment processes, Experts by Experience in training workshops, our Ambient Guardians Quality Assurance Group and Quality Check audits.Is co-production always appropriate?When done correctly and with full commitment, co-production and involvement have huge benefits. However, issues arise when organisations use terms such as these with no intention of properly implementing them. Before beginning the process of co-production, its essential to carefully consider the appropriateness of this approach and what it will mean in terms of resources and time.To see involvement and co-production in action at Ambient, watch the video below:To see more of Ambient’s values in action, view case studies and watch interviews with the people we support, visit our YouTube channel.