Making everyday co-production real
Leicester City Council has committed to TLAP’s Making it Real approach. Lyn Knights, Practice Implementation Lead, with Mo Peberdy and Anna Severwright, two Leicester residents who draw on social care, describe how this new approach is making a difference to all their lives.
Leicester City Council is very committed to strengths-based practice; building on what is strong to identify solutions to challenges. This is underpinned by developing trusting relationships where people work together as equals, sharing power. Making it Real is an invaluable starting point for this, going back to basics, having the kinds of conversations with those of us who draw on social care support about what makes a good life.
To make a difference, it’s crucial to understand what’s getting in the way; listening for things that work well for the system but inadvertently create difficulties or worries for people. One example of this was the letters we send out. What we thought was clear and instructive, people found threatening, making them anxious. Co-producing and prioritising changes to the letters gave us stepping stones to build trust and started everyday co-production. It has also brought the joy of getting to know each other, building good relationships and listening to different perspectives along the way.
Some solutions were quick. Others, such as new direct payments guidance and agreements, are taking more conversations to find a balance that is truly personalised. It already feels different. We’re now setting up a Making it Real group, continuing what we’ve started, with more voices, greater co-production and continued impact. We’re aiming to ensure people can be true partners in designing and shaping services authentically and everyday.
“We have a can-do approach which focuses on what matters to people and we think and act creatively to make things happen for them” Making it Real We statement
Mo writes: Just when you are most vulnerable you have to share intimate personal details with a complete stranger. Try to think what that feels like. Think about the most embarrassing thing possible about yourself and then imagine the next time a stranger knocks on your door you have to tell them all about it in minute detail. On top of that, reams of paperwork, countless questions and people telling you what you need, what you can have, how you will have it and when. You feel you are drowning and engulfed in fear, dread and pain and you just want it over and done with.
This is a typical person’s experiences of adult social care. It certainly was mine. But at Leicester it is now different. There is change. Little changes at first with a big impact. A focus on co-production, working with those who experience the process, and asking them what they would like, how they would like it delivered and by whom.
It is early days, but as a person who receives support, I have been proud to be part of this process. I have already seen the power the changes have had, how everyone feels better about the work they are doing and people are happier with the support they receive. Best of all, there’s often not a financial cost, it’s about being more creative with the current package of care, being flexible, innovative and having the time to spend with the person talking to them and finding out what really makes them happy.
Anna adds: “I can live the life I want and do the things that are important to me as independently as possible” is the first I statement in TLAP’s Making It Real. And my favourite. Because often for people like myself, many choices or things that are important are removed from us when we enter ‘serviceland’.
One of the first things we worked on together was the review form. Lyn, from the council, listened and heard that we kept having to repeat ourselves every year, completing a form focussed on tasks such as washing and dressing. She heard that we were scared that our care was going to be cut at review time. Now the form is largely blank and starts with ‘what matters to you?’, totally shifting the conversation and focus. Here's a copy (opens new window) of what we sent out to people.
My review felt very different this year. Instead of having to go back over the practical day to day tasks, I could talk about what I wanted to achieve and how I could start to get there. My budget hasn’t increased but I have been given some flexibility in how I use it so it makes sense in my life. I feel more in control.
For me co-production and good social care is all about trust, power and relationships. It took time to build trust and we felt really heard. Similarly, workers will need to build trust with an individual or family, really listen to what matters to them and then work with the person to co-produce their support.