There are two main ways in which commissioners can introduce co-production into public services:
- By commissioning for co-production - where commissioners require co-production to happen in the services that they buy. In these examples the co-production is between providers and people who use services, carers, families and communities (See Commissioning co-production).
- By co-producing commissioning - where people with care and support needs, carers and family members are involved in commissioning from the very beginning. This includes agreeing what needs to change so that services can improve people's lives, co-designing services and taking part in reviews and evaluations. In these examples the commissioners themselves are involved in the co-production process and they involve people using services and carers in commissioning from the beginning (See Lambeth Living Well).
It is good for local providers to be encouraged to design and deliver their services through co-production with people using them, carers, families and communities and this should continue. But to really value people's assets throughout the commissioning process, commissioners need to co-produce commissioning more often.
The Care Act says that commissioners should consider the role of co-production in the commissioning and market shaping process. To do this, co-production must be part of the whole commissioning cycle: from understanding what social care services are needed through to planning and delivering them. This is very much about commissioning with people, not for them, throughout the whole process.