Celebrating the impact of Co-Production
05 July 2022
National Co-production Week takes place 4 July to 9 July 2022. Co-production is about working in equal partnership with people using services and their support networks. Co-production offers the chance to transform social care and health provision to a model that offers people real choice and control. To celebrate this week we decided to reflect on the progress of a project in our Community Lives Service.
Optalis Customer Conference
Our Co-production story begins with the Optalis Customer Conference. Customers of Optalis were invited to participate in an interactive conference where they could express their thoughts on the care and support they received, as well as provide feedback on how that care and support might be improved in the future.
Planning the conference
It took several months to plan the conference, with representatives with lived experience playing a critical role to help co-produce the event. During the planning sessions, members of the group talked about their memories. The group decided to focus on memories at the event, recognising that understanding people's pasts allows us to learn about what is important to them.
The group also recognised that our lives change as we get older and that we must consider people's changing needs and assist them in making long-term plans. Several members of the planning group have retired or are contemplating retirement, with this in mind the theme for the conference was decided; Ageing Well.
Gathering views and ideas
The conference focused on talking about the care and support for adults with learning disabilities as they grow older. At the event we explored some of the life experiences that can make growing older more difficult for people with learning disabilities.
The day also provoked lots of useful discussion about what good support looks like, and we started to build a plan for a retirement club. We invited people at the event to help us design what the retirement club would have to offer and how it would be run.
The impact of co-design
Plans to progress the retirement clubs halted as the pandemic took hold, until recently, when Helen Austin, Service Coordinator, picked up the mantle to bring this idea to life.
“It’s good to catch up with people I haven’t seen for a long time” Member of the retirement club
Over several months, with the support of several members, a club was set up to run every Friday from Boyn Grove Resource Centre. Helen has started to shape the club using feedback from the conference. As the group has grown and settled in, she has began to shape the sessions, based on each person’s interests and abilities. Activities on offer range from baking and cooking to gentle exercise, quizzes and crafts. A major attraction of the session is the hearty lunchtime meal. Offering members, the chance to enjoy a cooked meal in the company of others and have a good chat.
“We talk about interesting things like old TV shows and see if we can remember them” Member of the retirement club
Helen explained “The morning session is quite structured, and leads us nicely into a leisurely lunch. After lunch, we offer more relaxed and low-key activities. We are hoping to be able to get the groups out for lunch in the future for special occasions as restrictions continue to ease.”
“Some members of the group are only just returning to a day service, as they were shielding during the pandemic. This has provided them a gentle re-introduction. It is so important to be able to provide support and stimulation to people as they enter their later years so that they can maintain their skills and independence.
Helen continues “Without this group many of our retirement club members would not be accessing day support and would not be stretching themselves physically, enjoying mental stimulation or maintaining friendships.”
The retirement club has been so successful, the Community Lives team are looking at setting up another group in the Wokingham area.
Time to Talk
A group of customers and staff met at Westmead to take a moment to think about the impact that the pandemic has had on all our lives, both the positives and negatives.