A day in the life of a Co-production Advisor

Is co-production different to what we might do on a typical day in our busy lives?  

Catriona Duncan-Rees tells us about one of hers and how co-production is not a 'pilot' or a 'project'!

Here's Monday: 

1- Get up.

2- Make coffee.

3- Anticipate imminent morning chaos...

4- Co-produce breakfast with three and five year old (or face a barrage of frustration because they can’t choose what they want)

5- Inform teenager he can make his own breakfast because he ‘doesn't need me to do it for him’ (Working hard on breaking the dependency culture!) 

6- Consult three and five year old about why it is in their best interests to get dressed. Ask if they want to take the risk of being late, or taken to pre-school/school in their PJs. 

7- Facilitate creative conversation to help three and five year old understand the need to get dressed! 

8 – Inform children it’s time to get in the car. 

9- Attempt to coerce children into the car. Further outburst of frustration. 

10- Remember they are three and five and their perspective on life is somewhat different to mine. Opt for ‘inject some more fun, creativity, and time’ and risk being late (again!) 

11- Arrive at school late (again!).

12- Visualise coffee. In mug. Now cold. 

13- Return home. Microwave coffee. Turn on laptop…

Co-production for me is a way of living life. It's not an add-on.  It's the way we do things.  Interactions with family and friends are reciprocal. We care about what matters to each other. Interactions happen on a number of levels: 1:1, as a family unit, often they include friends, family and other people outside of the immediate family.

I want my children to be free to express themselves, to make best use of their skills and talents. But, I also have a responsibility to make sure they are safe, learn about independence and interdependence, and are able to respect the needs of others.

This level of relationship takes trust, time, patience and commitment. Not just ‘rules and regulations’, or 'policy and procedure'.  As for risk assessments – let’s just say spontaneity rules! I do what I can to ensure their environment is as safe as possible – but children learn by exploring and taking risks. And the bigger they get the bigger the risks.

We sometimes 'break the rules' because actually that is what is right for us in that moment. 

Yes it’s frustrating when things don't happen, or take longer, or don't happen at all. I try to coerce, educate and inform, often consult with them – but ‘co-production’ works every time because it is fundamentally about how we relate to one another, what matters to us, and how we make decisions.

It’s about balancing my ‘needs’ as the ‘service provider’ (at least that is how it often feels) with those of the people in my life who access the services and support I ‘commission’ and ‘provide’. And of course, it is appropriate to educate, inform and consult on some things! My family are all climbing the ladder of co-production.

There is no management system to 'help' me make decisions about how I care for my children. There are, however, plenty of people and places where I can get information and advice, including friends, family, neighbours, community groups, the internet and statutory agencies.

For me co-production is about living out the values and principles that are important to me and my family. Not always having answers and making mistakes is part of the process (and I make lots), but each mistake presents an opportunity to learn, say sorry and decide how we do things differently.

My family isn’t a ‘pilot’ or a ‘project’ –they are a huge part of my life. There is no scrapping it because it doesn’t work and starting again!

Watch the Ladder of Co-production (opens new window) (short film)

Find out about the  National Coproduction Advisory Group.



Posted on by Sally Percival

Absolutely spot on Cat. Its what we do everyday! Its not rocket science even though sometimes it can be a bit chaotic, but that as you demonstrate so well is just life in general! Brilliant blog.

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