Opportunities and challenges 04
Co-production should not be seen as a single activity. Successful co-production will introduce systems changes that will lead to the continued review, development, and delivery of new forms of support. Therefore, co-production benefits from a culture of continuous learning about what has worked and what has not.
Review and evaluation are an essential part of any co-production initiative, to be carried out with the people who use the services. Looking at outcomes and processes should aid the development of co-productive approaches, but there have been very few comprehensive evaluations of co-production initiatives. The evaluation must focus on the real difference that co-production makes in people’s lives, and they must be co-produced.
Within this process, a series of opportunities opens up for us, but also challenges. It is important to take them into account to be able to anticipate:
Added value: Co-production can access assets that were previously underutilized and can also bring greater satisfaction to the people who use the services.
Use of the experience of service users: Service users value the approaches in which the professional helps them to achieve the objectives that they themselves have determined. Co-productive approaches can also help develop mutual support systems that address problems before they escalate.
Practical skills: Some co-productive models, such as time banks where participants share skills and camaraderie, can provide practical advantages, such as formal and informal skills and learning.
Health Benefits and Prevention: Co-production has been found to have a positive impact on health with a link between time banks and reduced levels of hospitalization. Certain co-production schemes could contribute to the wellness and prevention agenda in health and social care.
Social capital: Schemes that build supportive relationships and increase trust and activity among participants have positive benefits for social capital. In addition to the benefits felt by service users, service providers and the community at large can benefit from these approaches.
Difficult to handle well when dealing with larger groups
It may seem exclusive and unrepresentative to those users/residents who are not invited to participate.
Requires a considerable time commitment on the part of practitioners and participants
It is possible that co-production schemes could marginalize already marginalized groups , as there are limits to the extent to which some people can co-produce without support. It is necessary to take into account the issues of social exclusion, equality and diversity. There is also an awareness that co-production should not be a method for governments to unload their problems on the community and the users of the services.
Challenges to existing frameworks : The risk averse tendency of statutory authorities, as well as tax and benefit regulations, can create problems for co-productive initiatives. In addition, accountability may be threatened as previously separate private and public, formal and informal budgets become intertwined.
There may be concerns about the long-term sustainability of projects, as many co-production initiatives want to be independent and rely on funding that is often short-term and unstable.
Staff support : For co-production to work effectively, staff and service users must be trained