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From 3-7 July 2023, it’s Co-production Week! At Lifeways, we take co-production seriously. It’s one of our key models of support for nearly 5,000 adults living in the community.

So what is co-production?

Simply put, co-production is another way of saying that we strive to include everyone when we design, develop and evaluate our support. Who’s ‘everyone’? This means our teams, the people we support, their families, and communities.

At Lifeways, co-production is mainly used by our teams who directly support individuals.

co-production has been at the heart of our values for the past 25 years.

The Think Local Act Personal national partnership, of which Lifeways is a member, calls co-production a ‘meeting of minds coming together to find shared solutions’.

Here’s another definition that we at Lifeways think is spot-on:

Josie, an individual we support who lives in her own home at our Morecambe, Lancashire supported living service, describes co-production as “when I get support, it’s a working-together-and-helping-each-other-thing.”

It’s only when we learn to treat everyone as an individual that we can focus on personalisation.

Personalisation means making every individual we support empowered to actively choose and control the way their support is planned and delivered.

That’s why personalisation is achieved through co-production.

What we’ve been up to with Co-production over the past year:

We made an animation explaining what co-production is about:

We get it – co-production can seem a little hard to explain and understand. That’s why we worked together to create a five-minute animation explaining co-production and personalisation.

The animation was co-produced with the people we support at Lifeways, using real-world examples of where co-production was used.

The animation was endorsed by two of our Quality Checkers, Johnathan and Beth.

Our marketing team also created a co-production page on our official Lifeways website, which includes the co-produced animation on co-production.

We attended the “Not Another Co-Production Festival” in Birmingham!

This Tuesday 4 July 2023, saw the “Not Another Co-Production Festival” being held in Birmingham – and we made sure to show up and take part!

At the festival, individuals at Lifeways aimed to have conversations with other people who co-produce, think, dream, ask questions and share experiences together.

The festival brings together grassroots changemakers with local, regional and national organisations and movements to forge new partnerships, share practice and learn from social change activities.

We held a National ‘Our Voices’ workshop to improve the support our teams provide

Last year, we brought together Quality Checkers, co-production ambassadors, and a range of team member representatives. Some individuals even joined us remotely – which meant we could have as many voices and views in the room as possible.

At the workshop, we collected and reviewed all of the feedback and created a set of ‘I statements’ – what people we support told us about what they liked and didn’t like. These statements included sentences like:

  • “I feel heard”
  • “I feel settled in my home”
  • “I want more opportunities to keep busy”

These ‘I statements’ were discussed in groups to identify which were positive statements and which were negative.

We then clustered the statements together and discussed any common threads. Working as a group, we then co-produced a statement for each overarching theme.

Together, we then worked on ideas for action.

One of the key, over-arching themes was:

‘We want bigger voices and even better feedback’.

That’s why we’re aiming to expand our Quality Checker Network – more on that below!

We’ve welcomed more Quality Checkers on-board!

An important aspect of co-production is working with people we support to make sure our service at their home where they live is of the highest quality.

And very often, peoples’ expertise is about their home, and where they live.

At Lifeways, we believe this ultra-focused expertise is very valuable. That’s why we run a co-produced Quality Checkers initiative among the nearly 5,000 individuals we support.

Quality Checkers, who are people we support, look at the support we provide in their own home and other people we support’s homes, using a toolkit they have designed with our Quality Team. This toolkit sets out what good support looks like.

Quality Checkers also inspect the service where they live, ensuring that the highest standards are met.

The training process equips Quality Checkers with 49 questions to ask other individuals about the standard of support they receive, and additional guidance to help them perform the role. Answers are then recorded and acted on, where relevant, by Lifeways’ teams.

We now have over 130 Quality Checkers across Lifeways, and we’re working together to recruit, train and support our Quality Checkers of tomorrow. Our eventual goal is to have a Quality Checker for all of our 1,500 services.

Quality Checkers are part of Lifeways’ co-production and personalisation approaches.

Last year, we welcomed on board a new cohort of Quality Checkers.

In the picture above you can see Kirsty and Caroline who are newly-trained Quality Checkers in Northumberland.

And this summer, our Quality Checkers now have an official logo, co-produced with the people we support. After a competition which saw individuals submit ideas for logos, Dom, an individual we support, created the winning design, which resembles a large blue magnifying glass.

On his winning the Quality Checker logo design, Dom says:

“I came up with the idea because I learnt what a quality checker was when my friend became the quality checker for the building. We joked he was a detective so I used a magnifying glass. I chose my favourite colours as I thought they stood out.”

Dom adds: “I am pleased to be involved in something so big, and I am looking forward to seeing my idea come to life.”

Here's Dom's winning logo:

We’ve reviewed – and renewed – our commitment to more co-produced, personalised support

To make sure we’re held accountable in fulfilling our commitments to deliver more co-produced, personalised support, in 2021 we joined the Think Local Act Personal initiative, which sees Lifeways joining other providers to commit to “Making it Real.”

Making it Real is a jargon-free framework for how to ‘do’ personalised care and support. It’s for people working in health, adult social care, housing, and for people who access services.

Making it Real has been co-produced by Think Local Act Personal with input from partners, organisations and individuals, including the National Co-production Advisory Group (NCAG).

In the last few months, we decided to update our commitment to better reflect what we’ve done to ‘make it real’, and talk about how we’ve wanted to increase our commitment to more person-centred, co-produced support.

As a result of the Our Voices Workshop, we are now working with our Quality Checkers to co-produce a Quality Checker Committee – whilst their membership, role and function will be co-produced, the overarching aim is to act as an advisory board around engagement, inclusion and personalisation for the organisation and Executive Leadership Team.

Their first project will be to review the learning from the last Our Voices Workshop – as mentioned above - and advise and support the project team around how we can ensure this year’s Workshop is as inclusive, positive and productive as possible.


We launched a Pen Pal Network!

This summer saw the launch of Lifeways’ official Pen Pal Network, which will see some of the nearly 5,000 people Lifeways supports get in touch with each other and become pen pals!

The idea to support people to get in touch with each other started last year, at the National Our Voice Workshop, where people we support told us they wanted more opportunities to keep busy and do the things they like.

In response, we worked together to co-produce the Lifeways Pen Pal Network with the help of a group of people we support: our Quality Checkers.

In the pictures above, David (in the grey top) and Henry (in the red top), who are both Quality Checkers, were writing down ideas about the resources we would need to help people start our Pen Pal Network.

These include a toolkit on how to become a pen pal, hints and tips for staying safe, tools to match people with similar interests together, and ideas for a poster promoting the network across the UK.

We’re looking forward to seeing Pen Pal friendships blossom.

We hope you enjoyed reading all about our co-production activities. Here’s to another year of co-producing better support together!

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