A group of smiling stick figures under a banner that says “Co-production”

Co-producers Katherine, Simon, and Chris Reflect on the UCL Centre for Co-production

This blog was written by Centre Co-producers Katherine Barrett, Simon Denegri, and Chris Dankwa who introduce themselves and their hopes for the UCL Centre for Co-production in Health Research.

We’re continuing our series introducing people who have been involved in co-producing the Centre. Here, Katherine, Simon and Chris say hello and share their hopes for our future. We like to think we’re a friendly bunch 🙂 so if you’d like to get involved in co-producing the Centre with us too, please reach out to Susan coproduction@ucl.ac.uk! You can also learn more about co-production and opportunities to participate in one of our latest blogs.

Katherine Barrett

I have been a service user for many years and was looking for something to do work wise when my teaching career folded due to ill health and along came service user involvement and co-production.

I am interested in the UCL Centre for Co-production in Health Research development and co-production because there is no single formula for co-production which really interests me and there is variety of things going on. It’s great that UCL have started a Centre for Co-production and I am sure it will help break down the barriers between people who use services and practitioners. A lot of service users have had a career before becoming unwell and co-production defines people who use services as assets with skills. Co-production is so powerful in developing strategies for example, wellbeing and mental health strategies.

Being involved at UCL has helped with my recovery because I have been involved in important work which has improved my confidence. I am very interested in the Centre because work that is co-produced can be read and understood by many more people. Different perspectives can really bring issues alive. I hope that the Centre will grow and grow and I hope many more practitioners will come to see co-production as something important for them to take part in. Service users, public members and practitioners working together bring a lot more creativity and value to courses, research, etc.

However co-production does throw up some challenges, for example, some practitioners might not understand and agree with co-production and don’t engage. Hopefully this can be overcome with time.

 

Simon Denegri

A group of people holding heart decorations. Simon is the one kneeling down!

A group of people holding heart decorations. Simon is the one kneeling down!

Tell us a bit about yourself: I have worked in and around health research and care for 30 years and have been lucky to follow my passions and interests throughout. I stumbled into public involvement in 1996 when I was at the Alzheimer’s Society and am still stumbling. I have met some amazing people, made wonderful friends and it is never, ever dull.

Why are you interested the Centre development and co-production more generally? It feels like the next step in realising our values and principles for working with people to improve health and care. If public involvement was about aiming for the moon, co-production is our mission to Mars!

What are your hopes and dreams for the Centre? That it becomes a source of energy, inspiration, help and partnership to people in the UK and abroad who want to work in a different way to produce the best health care and treatment.

Are there any areas that you think that may be a challenge for the Centre and that we need to focus more on going forwards? I suspect our biggest limitation will always be ourselves. I really do believe that there is not any problem that can’t be overcome by working with other people!

 

Chris Dankwa

A name tag reads “Hello my name is Chris”

A name tag reads “Hello my name is Chris”

Tell me a bit about yourself: I’m an engaged citizen interested in ethics, policy, technology, responsible innovation and helping people actualise their full potential.

Why are you interested the Centre development and co-production more generally? I currently sit on a health research advisory panel and really enjoy it because of the opportunity to influence serious work. However, the role is reactive rather than proactive because the initiative rests with academics and clinicians to come to us for input.  On the other hand, I’ve occasionally participated in health-specific hack days. Here, there is an opportunity to be proactive, but the chances of prototypes being properly developed and then absorbed into the ‘real world’ are actually quite low. Mercifully, the Centre for Co-production sits somewhere in the middle of the ‘panellist-hacker continuum’!

Why the interest in co-production? Because diverse perspectives deliver better results.

What are your hopes and dreams for the Centre? Well, when I first heard about the Centre, I nearly fell of my chair – I couldn’t believe that someone had finally decided to set something like this up. So, my main hope is that it opens successfully and my dream is that it never closes!

Are there any areas that you think that may be a challenge for the Centre and that we need to focus more on going forwards? I think the main challenges will be publicising the existence of the Centre effectively, especially to those less likely to participate in research and persuading people that are not used to non-hierarchical methods of working that co-production is the best way to go. We should focus on working out how to maximise our impact and not be afraid to experiment when we do so. I would also suggest that we need to develop really robust ways of measuring how equitable, diverse and inclusive the Centre’s network/ecosystem is and also that we are fully transparent about the methodologies we use to do so.

Feel free to say hi back in the comments and or add your thoughts! If you would like to be featured in a future blog like this you are very welcome! To get in touch, you can email Susan coproduction@ucl.ac.uk or tweet @UCL_CoPro. You can also sign up for our newsletter to continue receiving stories like this.

If you would prefer to look at this offline, here is a downloadable version of the blogs in our September 2019 update.