What is co-production?

Definitions of co-production

The National Co-production Advisory Group defines it as:

Co-production is not just a word, it is not just a concept, it is a meeting of minds coming together to find shared solutions.

In practice, co-production involves people who use services being consulted, included and working together from the start to the end of any project that affects them.

When co-production works best, people who use services and carers are valued by organisations as equal partners, can share power and have influence over decisions made.

The Department of Health has worked together with people who use services and carers, to produce the following definition:

Co-production is when you as an individual influence the support and services you receive, or when groups of people get together to influence the way that services are designed, commissioned and delivered.

In TLAP's Care and Support Jargon Buster the following definition is given:

When you as an individual are involved as an equal partner in designing the support and services you receive. Co-production recognises that people who use social care services (and their families) have knowledge and experience that can be used to help make services better, not only for themselves but for other people who need social care.

Origins of the term 'co-production'

Professor Elinor Ostrom coined the term 'co-production' in the 1970s to describe why crime rates increased when local police started driving around in patrol cars instead of walking the beat. The police had lost the opportunity to co-operate and collaborate with local people that was the essential ingredient in maintaining a safe community.

In 'Joining the Dots' a paper commissioned by Think Local Act Personal, Lucie Stevens of the New Economics Foundation (nef) writes,

Co-production is an assets-based approach which starts first and foremost with people's energy, skills, interests, knowledge and life experience. By doing this co-production connects public services with valuable community-based resources and opens up opportunities for improving outcomes without increasing costs 1

1 L Stevens (2008) Joining the Dots: How all the system elements can connect to drive personalisation and co-production, incorporating individual social and community capacity', London, New Economics Foundation.