To deliver different, better, lower cost public services, public professionals and citizens need to embrace co-production. At Innovation Unit, we know from our work in radical innovation that it is a practice and a mindset that is at the very heart of transformative change.
People’s needs are better met when they are involved in an equal and reciprocal relationship with professionals, working together to get things done. When citizens don’t just participate in the process of designing and delivering new services, but they own it.
We’ve been working with the Lambeth Living Well Collaborative to enable just that.
Lambeth is one of the most deprived areas in the UK with a mental healthcare system struggling to handle high levels of referrals and people stuck in secondary care. Like many other healthcare systems around the UK, it has seen its funding cut significantly in recent years.
The Collaborative was formed in response to these challenges. It is a group of service users, GPs, providers and commissioners dedicated to transforming Lambeth’s mental healthcare system. We are helping them to prove that co-production will work on a large scale and drastically improve outcomes for people with mental health problems, regardless of the severity of their condition.
Opening up the process sounds a daunting task but the simplest of adjustments can have a profound impact on culture and ways of working. A monthly open invitation to breakfast in a local social enterprise cafe, run by people with lived experience of mental health issues, was the catalyst in Lambeth. New offers like a peer support service and community options team were quickly established to support people out of secondary care and into sustainable community based support and services.
These breakfast meetings were just the start. They provided a simple opportunity to be part of the conversation about challenges, and created a shared vision that co-production is “how we do things around here”. To date, the Living Well Network approach is seeing real impact, with a significant month on month fall on referrals to secondary care.
During co-production week, Lambeth shows us that strongly co-produced services are the only way to meet people’s needs and aspirations. It addresses a variety of issues facing commissioners ranging from how to better connect with communities to identify opportunities and challenges within them, to how to better assess outcomes, and encourage providers to work collaboratively.
With patients fully embracing the principles of co-production - ‘nothing about us, without us’ - Lambeth has created long-term, sustainable impact, whilst dramatically improving healthcare experiences.
To find out more about Innovation Unit’s work transforming public services through co-production, visit our website.
First published by SCIE 07/07/16