When the Transforming Care Board meeting finished today I had a chat with a lead Commissioner from Oxfordshire County Council by the coffee machine. I mention the coffee machine because I was casually getting a cuppa and she came over to give me some exciting news. She obviously thought her news would please me.
Apparently, OCC are going to recruit someone to lead on co-production across the social care sector.
“Why?” says I
Don’t get me wrong I’m a big fan of stuff being co-produced. I mean why would you do it any other way if you want stuff to work for the people you are providing services for?
“Why don’t you just do it?” I added.
“Well it’s not as simple as that” she replied. “It needs someone to coordinate it and embed it across the council” and then talked about training and training the trainer etc.
Now, I’ve worked in a large organisation before…until very recently actually. I know how difficult it can be to get people to do things differently and work in a different way. But, co-production seems to have become yet another term that services have grabbed onto and turned into a complicated process.
It should have been something that was built on the principles, and all the work that’s been done on participation over many years… parent carer/ user/patient/carer involvement etc. (whatever you want to call it the principles are the same) Somehow and I have my own theories as to why, we’ve slipped down the ‘ladder of participation’ (or is that the snake) here in Oxfordshire and we appear to be right back to square one! I blame others not just this particular commissioner and personally value her enthusiasm…it’s just misguided.
Co-production isn’t really that complicated.
Here’s how I think it should be…
“Things aren’t working very well for some people what can we do”
“Oh, I know, why don’t we ask them what’s not working and why, and ask them what would work better for them? …
“Yes! We could invite them to come and tell us”….and then we could work with them to find a better way of helping them”
“We could go away, work up a plan (based on what they have told us what’s working and not working) Go back to the people we talked to and ask them what they think and ask them whether they think that would work, we could even hold some meetings where all the people working in these services and the people who use them get together”
“Yes! And they could share it with people they know too, the learning disability community is really strong you know, we could get so much input into this, for very little effort on our part”
“Oh! And why don’t we invite them to come and co-train with us. I mean they are the people who know what would work for them and other families like them and ‘the lived experience’ is so powerful, and really hits home to people”… ‘Brilliant idea!”
“We’d pay them all for their time to help us of course, because after all this is gonna save us shed loads of money and they’re worth it…and after all, we’re all being paid aren’t we?
Well you get the gist and okay, so I know I’m probably being too simplistic here and if I had the energy on a Friday night, at the end of a long week with lots of other crap, maybe I’d have come up with a better argument… But in times of austerity, and the crap social care are in financially, I couldn’t help thinking what a fucking waste of money a lead person on Co-production would be. Where the hell is the common sense?
Then, just when I thought things couldn’t get any more ridiculous today …. on the way home, pootling along in my car, listening to BBC Radio 5 live I caught a discussion about a new museum being planned about VAGINA’S. I kid you not!
Apparently we need to know more about our Vagina’s. Other people, those who don’t have vaginas need to know about them too, the cultural and historical stuff as well as anatomy and where vaginas are and all that!
Now, I love Vagina’s as much as the next person. I even have one, but a museum dedicated to them…really? I love co-production too. I think I’ve been doing it for years although I like to use the old fashioned term “working together”…and employing someone to lead on that …really?
I arrived home thinking… The world has gone fucking bonkers!
Is it just me?
Maybe they could use funds to supportOXFSN and the families who are experts by experience who are doing this already and bringing all the relevant people together anyway