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‘People not process’ is the focus for co-production; a new method of working that underpins the Care Act 2014. But what does this mean for those working in social care?

Co-production is an important theme throughout much of the statutory guidance for the Act, but there has been some confusion on how it should be applied. 

It is not an entirely new concept. It has featured in other public sector areas over the years, but it is the first time it has been embedded in legislation for the care sector. 

A focus on facilitating change

Up until now, the practice has occurred on much more of a parochial scale. It also signifies the move to ‘facilitating rather than delivering’ change across social care, which marks a huge cultural shift. 

Crucially, co-production also differs from many of the skills commonly practiced such as consultation, engagement and even co-design. It doesn’t just seek ideas and insights but involves citizens by utilising their skills and expertise to inform practice. It is about causing change and not just talking about it with citizens.

Getting the balance of power right

There’s a focus on making sure that there is an equal balance of power between the people receiving care and those supporting them. With this in mind, local authorities need to ensure that both social work professionals and citizens have the power to ‘design, plan and deliver support together’. 

This is especially true in regards to prevention, where the Care Act 2014 makes it clear that ‘local authorities should actively promote participation in providing interventions that are co-produced with individuals, families, friends and the community’. 

Enabling service users and the wider public to inform what practice should look like is most definitely positive, but frontline staff will need to have both the time and flexibility to be co-productive. This is absolutely crucial if services, carers and families are going to be clear about what their expectations are.

To assist local authorities and those working in care, Think Local Act Personal (TLAP), has developed a range of support materials – it’s most recent being an online resource solely focusing on co-production and the Care Act 2014. 

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