The real world impact of co-production

Posted: 7 July 2023

A group of people in discussion around a table. One person is holding up a green card.

In this article:

  • What is co-production week?
  • What is the impact of co-production?
  • The real world impact of co-production at Brandon
  • Research with the University of Bristol
  • Brandon co-production for prescribing students at the University of the West of England (UWE)
  • Brandon co-production with Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Integrated Care Board (BNSSG ICB)
  • Get involved

What is Co-production Week?

The theme for Co-production Week 2023, is Co-production In The Real World. The week aims to shine a spotlight on the benefits of co-production, share good practice, and promote the contribution of people who use services and carers, in developing better public services.

At Brandon, we are proud of the work we do to co-produce projects and initiatives that have a significant positive impact to effect real change for autistic people and people with learning disabilities.

What is the impact of co-production?

The Brandon Trust Adventurers mosaic of photosOur co-produced projects are removing barriers for people who are not autistic and do not have learning disabilities, to ensure they better understand how a truly inclusive society can benefit everyone.

At Brandon, involvement and our Adventurers (people supported by Brandon who are also paid by Brandon to lead on co-production internally and externally) are central to our work.

The Adventurers recently met to discuss their views on co-production. Find out what co-production means to them.

But co-production will not be successful if we do not also deliver real change in the real world – and co-production, where it is being used, is changing lives for the better.

The real world impact of co-production at Brandon

Brandon’s Quality and Compliance Team lead Brandon’s co-production projects and our Involvement work. The team administrator, Lou Parfitt, explains what co-production means to her.

“Co-production is a major part of my work at Brandon. It has changed my perspective on every aspect of my role. The Adventurers always challenge my way of thinking and my perspective of the world.

“When I joined Brandon, I had never worked with people with a learning disability or autism. I was apprehensive about saying and doing the right thing, and my worry about offending someone was prevalent.

“However, The Adventurers not only put me at ease; they changed my world view. I have seen, first hand, the effect just listening and giving a voice to someone who feels marginalised, can do. The personal satisfaction this job has given me is immeasurable. I can’t think of anywhere else I would rather work than with The Adventurers, helping their voices be heard and their visions realised.

“The challenges we face implementing co-production are simply the time constraints that come with the actual work. It’s so important to be able to get the information across in a way that does not overwhelm people and ensures we are good advocates for the people we support. I overcome these challenges by really listening to the people we support, understanding their wants and needs and providing as much time and space for them to be able to be their best selves.

“Co-production is so important. We have to listen to the voices of the people we support as it is their lived experience. Listening and understanding the point of view of someone other than yourself, is a gift. Being able to see someone we support grow in confidence because they have been understood and shown that their thoughts and feelings are valid, is my idea of job satisfaction.

“Yes, co-production takes time and is not easy but the benefits outweigh the challenges. Everyone has the right to have their voices heard and co-production is the greatest way to showcase diverse and marginalised points of view.”

Research with the University of Bristol

Brandon’s involvement experts have also supported academic study into the benefits of co-production. University researcher, Zoe Ann Jeffery, reveals the impact co-production has had on her, professionally and personally.

“The inclusion of individuals with lived experience through co-production has infused a fresh dynamic into the research environment. By involving those who have first-hand experience of encountering barriers in healthcare, we have gained valuable insights and unearthed novel perspectives on addressing inequalities. The ideas generated by these participants have been nothing short of remarkable, and it is truly inspiring to collaborate with individuals in such a meaningful way.

“Working alongside individuals with lived experience has been an incredible journey for me. The opportunity to engage in open conversations and learn directly from their unique perspectives has had a profound impact on my academic development. It has broadened my horizons and enlightened me to the immense power of co-production. The richness and depth of knowledge that stems from this collaborative process are truly inspiring, and I feel immensely fortunate to have experienced such transformative interactions.

“Co-production is valuable for the insights you gain, which can provide new knowledge and go towards changing policy for people with learning disabilities.”

Brandon co-production for prescribing students

A GP video call appointment with a female patient who has a learning disabilityFor UWE’s prescribing course, Brandon’s Adventurers supported the course lecturers and students to ensure they have an inclusive approach to prescribing medicines. The Adventurers reviewed course materials and role-played prescription appointments as part of student assessments.

Deborah Moreno-Chamorro, Independent Prescribing Lead at UWE, said:

“The work that we have undertaken with The Adventurers has really shown me what true co-production is. It will be the blueprint for all co-production that we undertake in the future to make sure that our curriculum is inclusive and represents the client groups that our independent prescribing students will be supporting in their future practice.

“Personally, co-production with Brandon’s Adventurers has opened my eyes to what a difference we can make to people’s lives just by trusting them and letting them show us the way.

“When we all have targets to meet, the easy option is just to do something that we think fulfils the brief – but allowing the project to develop naturally has been so important. I believe we have developed a partnership that is quite unique. I am proud of that.

“Finding time to be successful at co-production is always a factor but by having regular targeted meetings and setting learning outcomes at each stage we have met all of our targets easily.

“The obvious joy that The Adventurers got from sharing their knowledge and opinions, is something I have enjoyed experiencing the most – it was clear that they got as much from it as the students did.

“Co-production is so valuable. I am passionate that everyone should be seen, heard, and valued. I think that as educators we have a role to play in making that happen. I have personally enjoyed every single part of this project and it has motivated me to keep pushing boundaries.”

Brandon co-production with BNSSG ICB

An image of an Accident & Emergency hospital entranceBrandon’s Adventurers have supported BNSSG ICB with many co-production projects. These have included visits to Southmead Hospital, reviewing the accessibility of the site and the inclusivity of the information shared with patients and visitors.

Lesley Le-Pine, Associate LD Projects at BNSSG ICB, explains the impact our co-production work has had:

“Co-production in my professional environment has helped me to connect with what matters to people with learning disabilities and to look at issues from their perspective.

“From a professional development perspective, co-production has reminded me what should be explored and to understand the inequalities and challenges people still face day to day.

“We didn’t face any challenges implementing co-production practices. I love co-production – it is brilliant and so much fun. People with learning disabilities always have great ideas and suggestions, and generally they have a great sense of humour, so it is always fun.

“Throughout the process, I most enjoyed people’s generosity, their company, their energy and their focus.

“Of course co-production is valuable. How could you work in learning disabilities and not do co-production? Everything should have a co-production element, including appointment of staff from the Board to the floor.”

Get involved

If you would like to get involved in co-production with support from Brandon, either as a Brandon Adventurer or as an employer or organisation looking to improve inclusion and involvement, email our involvement team.

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