Co-production in commissioning and market shaping

The statutory guidance for the Care Act identifies co-production as an important consideration for commissioning and market shaping. It says that commissioning and market shaping should be a "shared endeavour" with "commissioners working alongside people with care and support needs, carers, family members, care providers, representatives of care workers, relevant voluntary, user and other support organisations and the public to find shared and agreed solutions". [30]

Standard 4 of the Commissioning for Better Outcomes Framework (opens new window), which supports the implementation of the Care Act says that:

"Good commissioning starts from an understanding that people using services and their carers and communities are experts in their own lives and are therefore essential partners in the design and development of services. Good commissioning creates meaningful opportunities for leadership and engagement of people, including carers and the wider community, in decisions that impact on the use of resources and shape of services locally". [31]

There are already lots of good examples of provider organisations co-producing services with people who use them, with carers, families and with communities (See Tin Arts & KeyRing). But to really benefit from and value the assets, skills and experience that people with lived experience bring, the whole commissioning process needs to be co-produced from the very start, (See Lambeth living Well and Kirklees, for instance). This does not happen very often at the moment.

Involving people and service providers in the whole commissioning process brings a range of benefits for all of those involved.

  • People with lived experience often feel more valued and increase their self-confidence and social connections.
  • Commissioners feel more confident that they will get future services right for people the first time. This saves time and money and enables people to get on with living their lives.
  • People who provide services find that there are more opportunities to recognize the skills and assets that they have and to collaborate with other local agencies.

There are other reasons for working this way that include:

  • Helping everyone to understand what outcomes really matter for people locally, ensuring that all interventions can be shaped to support these (Co-producing an outcomes framework).
  • Identifying the assets and resources (physical and human) that are already valued locally (Asset mapping and Appreciative inquiry).
  • Developing ongoing conversations between local people, commissioners and service providers that will support commissioners to understand and intervene in the local market (market shaping).
  • Making it easier to co-design new services and strategies when this is needed.
  • Builds a network of people with lived experience that can help to evaluate the quality of local co-production work (Co-producing quality assessment).
  • Provide a forum within which innovation can take place. For example new support interventions can be identified and shaped to respond to needs identified by local people or service providers.

[30] Department of Health. (2014). Care and Support Statutory Guidance: Issued under the Care Act 2014. (opens new window) p.52.

[31] The University of Birmingham. (2014) Commissioning for Better Outcomes: A Route Map. (opens new window) p.14.

Practical Examples