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A conversation with one of the customers I had been supporting in my final weeks as a Keyworker with Support 55 has kept coming back to me in my first fortnight as a part of Co:Create. I had been supporting a lady called Mable (name changed for confidentiality’s sake) with learning difficulties and a fantastic interest in Greek mythology. I had been trying to explain to Mable what it was that Co:Create does and what I would be doing in my role as a Programme Coordinator. After we had gone through explaining the ideas behind coproduction and what role commissioners played in creating and delivering services, Mable came out with a fantastic and succinct piece of insight. ‘Ah so you’re like Hermes then?’ she said with a tone which implied she was stating the obvious. After I asked her what she meant by that she replied with ‘well, you’re the messenger then, like Hermes; you take messages from the normal people to the people up there’ as she gesticulated to the ceiling.
Through this statement Mable articulated what many of the people I had supported had experienced in their interaction with the health and social care sector. This was that their views and input into the design of services were not acknowledged or listened to; or that they felt so far removed from the decision makers and designers of services that the commissioners of these services may as well have been gods. Through talking to Mable it became apparent to me how important coproduction is when service users feel so far removed from decision makers.
By paying close attention to the health and social care commissioning landscape, and working in the sector itself, I understand why commissioners sometimes feel they do not have time or resources to fully incorporate coproduction into the design of their services when all they can do is continuously react whilst their workplace and the sector itself undergoes more and more legislative redrawing. It was after my conversation with Mable that I realised what an incredible difference you could make with a programme like Co:Create, which provides head space to commissioners so they can listen, think and, ultimately, design services around the people who use them.
Over my first few weeks as a Programme Coordinator I have been filled with excitement and enthusiasm in light of the energy and commitment of my new found colleagues and our remit. Although we come from a multitude of backgrounds within the health and social care sector, it is clear that we are driven with a sole purpose of providing commissioners the capacity to focus, to think and to listen to the people who use the services which they design and commission. Through Co:Create’s success I hope to be a part of ensuring that Mable no longer feels like the people who design the services she uses are far removed gods.
Brendan Warner-Southwell - Co:Create Programme Coordinator