The purpose of this paper is to offer some personal reflections and experience of using coproduction in the NHS. The purpose is to demystify coproduction and it is hoped that sharing personal experience will encourage others who may be contemplating using this approach in their quality improvement work.
Informed by underpinning literature, the approach is a combination of sharing case studies that span several decades at both the macro and micro level. Whilst several of the examples used are not mental health specific, they are equally applicable in this setting.
Coproduction principles can be used at all levels of the health and care system and are generally empowering for those involved. By soliciting insights from those who would not normally have a voice, it can help to overcome blind spots and produce better products and services. There is a correlation between staff engagement and patient outcomes which provides compelling evidence for coproduction approaches to be incorporated into organisational practice. Furthermore, patients and service users should no longer be considered as passive recipients of care but as an integral component of quality improvement processes.
The case studies offer examples of using coproduction at a national, organisational and individual level. In particular, the lessons learned from design science such as “thinking like an anthropologist” are shared. The distinction is made between patient satisfaction and patient experience and the impact that coproduction can have on organisational culture is discussed. By mobilising resources, knowledge and expertise across communities, coproduction capitalises on the “wisdom of the crowds” philosophy.
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