A service users perspective of co-production
I was recently approached by one of the managers at Community Links asking me if I would help her by facilitating a workshop to explain the value of service user involvement in my own recovery whilst living at one of the residential hostels.
Initially I found the request quite daunting but was willing to give it a go. We set aside an afternoon to gather ideas and look at the areas we wanted to cover. Condensing 8 months of my life into a couple of hours was going to be quite a challenge! We were both keen to cover the whole experience to show the stumbling blocks and the way these were overcome in order to achieve a successful outcome, not only for the service user but for my keyworker and other staff.
Our starting point was for me to give a background of what my diagnosis was, how this had affected me and how I had come to be living in the hostel.
We then went onto the ways in which I adapted to communal living and building trust between myself other residents, my keyworker and other staff members: meeting head on the challenges of finding positive coping strategies to live with rather than fight against my diagnosis. We explored what worked for me and what didn’t; discovering the value of perseverance for all involved.
We concluded the workshop by setting a couple of scenarios for those who attended to role play situations whereby a service user and keyworker worked together to overcome a specific stumbling block and achieved a positive outcome and also where they worked independently of each other and gained little or no improvement.
So back to my original question ‘Who does co-production benefit?’
In this instance I truly believe everyone benefited. The manager found a new way to show her staff the benefits of changing and updating working practices between staff and service users. Feedback from the team showed that they valued hearing my experiences and had been given a constructive insight into the benefits of service user involvement.
With regards to myself; it helped me see how far I had come during my time with Community Links seeing a vast improvement in my Mental Health and how many new skills I had learnt. It also gave me an opportunity to ‘give back’ and show appreciation for the hard work, commitment & dedication Community Links had shown me. Alongside recognising that I am still a work in progress, but now a very different person and in a far better and different place to where I was all those months ago.