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Beyond consulting: project ups the ante on co-production


The use of co-production in aged care, where consumers are equal partners in the design and delivery of services, is gaining ground in Australia with a new national project using the approach to embed an enablement focus in programs.

The project, Step Forward: Create Better Together, is being undertaken by CommunityWest and will pilot the use of co-production among 10 community aged care organisations. It will also develop and test resources and tools to support the widespread adoption of co-production in the sector.

Helen Attrill, CEO of CommunityWest, said co-production supported a wellness and enablement focus, as clients would be actively involved in designing services and identifying the strengths and weaknesses of programs.

Further, clients could advise organisations on how to communicate the wellness and enablement message to seniors, and outline the gains they hoped to achieve, which would help inform evaluation of programs, she told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Ms Attrill said co-production had been extensively used in the UK in areas such as local government, disability and aged care. CommunityWest last year became interested in co-production as a way of building on the engagement that most providers already undertake with their clients, she said.

Along with Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia, CommunityWest last year brought Madeline Cooper-Ueki, co-production expert from the UK’s National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi), to Australia to deliver a series of workshops. “That was well received and raised awareness of co-production as perhaps going further than the normal engagement strategies that organisations use,” said Ms Attrill.

Based on years of experience implementing wellness and enablement approaches in WA, many organisations had learned the importance of actively involving clients in service design and goal setting, she said.

The pilot phase of the project will run over eight months, from October to May 2016, and CommunityWest is current seeking expressions of interest from organisations (click here for more information).

A range of training tools and resources will be developed and tested by the 10 organisations in the pilot, and then publicly released for other providers to adopt.

In conjunction with COTA, the project will also develop peer education and training that would support consumers to play an equal role in the co-production process. “This is a new area of engagement for consumers. Providers traditionally have been the holders of information about service delivery, policy, workforce, practice… Consumers need to feel they are an equal partner,” said Ms Attrill.

The project is funded under the latest round of Aged Care Service Improvement and Healthy Ageing Grants (ACSIHAG) and is to be completed by July 2017.

Related AAA coverage: Dementia, CDC top innovation grants

Don’t miss the forthcoming May issue of Community Care Review for an in-depth interview with Madeline Cooper-Ueki discussing co-production in community care.



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