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The Manchester Briefing on COVID-19 issue 48: Co-production and supporting a resilient society

How co-production can support the design and delivery of a resilient society comes under the spotlight in the latest issue of The Manchester Briefing.

The monthly Briefing is aimed at those who plan and implement recovery and renewal from the pandemic, and is put together by Alliance Manchester Business School and the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute.

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Collective outcome

Co-production involves working with others to design and deliver strategies with the aim of achieving a collective outcome. Academic research has shown that it can help build the self-organising capabilities of communities, while involving members of the public in the design and delivery of services that directly or indirectly impact them can also build trust between those in leadership and members of the community.

Specific benefits of co-production include more effective services, increased levels of satisfaction, improved relationships, and improved democratic quality.

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Challenges

Although co-production offers advantages, it comes with challenges. Research has shown that adopting co-production as a method of design and delivery requires a change of culture and mindset from leaders, service providers, practitioners, service users, and communities.

Generating ‘buy-in’ from diverse groups of stakeholders may come as a challenge, while self-serving bias may occur where some participants contribute ideas that favour their personal interests more so than those of their wider community.

It may also lead to unfair representation and the pushing of selfish group agendas, while it may also sometimes lead to a lack of impact if not applied correctly.

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Principles

To mitigate the potential pitfalls of co-production, the Social Care Institute for Excellence offer four principles that can guide successful processes for co-production:

  • Equality - Co-production recognises that members of the public, leaders and practitioners are all essential to the process and that they may possess knowledge, skills and abilities that can contribute to the end goal.
  • Diversity - Co-production emphasises the essence of representation in the process through the involvement of all people. It is critical to consider and identify potential barriers related to socio-cultural issues, language, literacy levels, ethnicity, and gender discrimination.
  • Accessibility - Ensuring that those involved all have access to the entire process (design, delivery, review) is fundamental to the impact and success of co-production.
  • Reciprocity – Establishing a mechanism whereby those who contribute feel valued. For instance, reporting the outcome to participants and the impact of their participation in how the intervention has changed as a result of their contribution.

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Resilience building practices

Duncan Shaw, Professor of Operational Research and Critical Systems at AMBS, said: “Effective service design and resilience building practices can benefit from inputs from a range of stakeholders. Individuals, communities, the business and voluntary sectors, possess invaluable local knowledge and abilities to identify and reduce risk and pinpoint vulnerabilities.

“Their collaboration in design and delivery of resilience activities can enhance local agency, ownership, and the sustainability of new services and interventions.”

The Briefing ends with a number of key takeaway points for successful co-production:

  • Co-production should embed the values, needs, vision and ambitions for the future of all those involved in the design and delivery of services/interventions.
  • All stakeholders should be involved throughout each stage of the full co-production process in a structured, inclusive, and accessible manner.
  • The practice of co-production takes ideas and converts conversations into action. This may require offering the necessary training and support to those involved, providing access to the processes and practices, and building community capacity are practices that support co-production.
  • Co-production is not always a one-off activity, rather, an ongoing process. With this in mind, it is essential that the entire process is monitored, milestones be marked, outcomes be measured, and the results reviewed to identify areas that require improvement.

Download this week's Manchester Briefing on COVID-19 (issue 48)

If you would like to contribute your knowledge to the Briefing contact Duncan.Shaw-2@manchester.ac.uk