Co-production and community equipment provision

Jennifer Pearl biog photo
Jennifer Pearl, National Co-production Advisory Group (NCAG)
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Medequip (opens new window) is a well established company that provides community equipment services with a large number of contracts across England. They have committed to improving their services by working with people through co-production. Recently they teamed up with Social Care Future (opens new window) and Community Catalysts, (opens new window) with support from TLAP, to run a workshop with people from councils responsible for community equipment services in their area. 

This was my opportunity, along with my occupational therapist, to tell my story and make suggestions of how the provision could change. My experience is very similar to the one I had told about my shower chair in 2018, when Jeremy Hunt was the Health Minister. In particular little has changed in getting replacement parts for what are called “specials” i.e. items that are not on the standard list.

It was great to have discussions at the event, which over 60 people attended. At the last minute my hospital appointment was brought forward and of course clashed with the seminar. Fortunately, I had requested that my part be pre-recorded in case I was unable to attend. Luckily I was able to use a quiet space in the hospital cafeteria to go online and to join parts of the discussion without the stress of having to give my talk live.  I was well supported by TLAP to make it all possible. 

The fact that organisations are making these steps towards co-production reflects the importance of TLAP’s Making It Real, a framework which supports good personalised care and support for providers, commissioners and people who access services. Positive changes in equipment provision would support several of the Making it Real I statements, here’s just one example: ‘I can live the life I want and do the things that are important to me as independently as possible.’

I really hope changes can happen and that we can have a better system. I would like to see an app or system where you have a list of all your community equipment and can re-order parts or request repairs easily with call slots for a morning or afternoon repair or delivery with a text system to notify you 30 minutes before the person is due to arrive. I really hope this can happen soon. I would also like to see the same with Wheelchair Services.

I spend a lot of time and energy chasing up both these services. It has an enormous impact on my wellbeing and can result in poor posture, pressure sores, not being able to shower or undertake bowel care. These services are essential to me and I don’t want to continually have to complain or, as a last resort, use the Equality Act to get services.

I really want a quick, easy service for community equipment that is responsive to my needs and to those of everyone else who draws on care and support: ‘I have care and support that is coordinated and everyone works well together and with me’, another one of the Making It Real statements that would be supported by co-production in equipment provision.

Read more about developing approaches to co-production, customer feedback and community delivery in equipment provision in this blog (opens new window)from Community Catalysts.

Editorial Note: Jennifer does not receive her community equipment from Medequip


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