Influencing co-production, and a passion for personalisation

As Sally Percival steps down as Co-Chair of the National Co-production Advisory Group (NCAG) after 12 years, we asked her to tell us what’s changed, and what she’s learnt from her experience.

So much has changed over the years. Not least in the political arena where people are actively wanting to hear from people with lived experience; that is so different from the days when nobody wanted to listen to us. We have regular meetings now with the Care Minister, and are able to share our expertise more widely. I hope in time this will really influence policy for social care. 

"We are widely seen as trailblazers"

I’m so proud that people with lived experience are chairing the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Adult Social Care working group. This group is focused on reality, and looking for practical solutions to people’s real lives. We are widely seen as trailblazers, as it’s so unusual for an APPG working group to have people with lived experience at its heart.  

TLAP’s Making it Real (opens new window) approach has been a huge part of the journey.  It’s the most co-produced piece of work that I’ve been involved in and of course it’s still evolving and living. Understanding what good care and support looks like from the perspective of people who draw on care and support is the bedrock of personalisation. 

The language surrounding care has changed so much.  A few years ago, service user or user were the only words that described us, but now it’s a bit of a shock when you hear that language and it’s far less common - that’s a good thing.

Creating the right conditions for co-production

What I’ve learnt mostly from my experience is that great relationships are crucial. Strong relationships provide good foundations but you still need all the other conditions to be right for co-production (opens new window) to be really effective. Those conditions include trust, permission to fail, time, investment and a passionate belief that you can make it work. I’ve seen it falter so many times when a single leader or manager moves on, because not enough is in place to make it sustainable.

Looking back, I can honestly say it’s been really hard work, but being part of NCAG has changed my life. I’m so proud of the continuity that I’ve been able to offer over the years and the relationships I’ve built with people. I think I’ve been something of a ‘fixer’. I’ve got a really strong passion for making it right for carers and disabled people, and that’s sustained me over the years.

I will still be part of the group (opens new window) in future, but I think it’s in safe hands as I take more of a back seat. We’re working in ever closer collaboration with TLAP now and I think we’re stronger together as a partnership as a result. We’ve done some really good work recently and I was delighted to see us mentioned more than once in the recent White Paper on social care. 

My real hope for the future is that we’ll move to greater equality between health and social care – there’s absolutely no balance at the moment and that really needs to be addressed. So I know I’ll keep fighting for that, just as I have done for the past twelve years. 

Watch Sally and find out more in the TLAP is Ten film – a brief history of TLAP and NCAG (opens new window).

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