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Reflections on a changing world: the importance of co-production

By Niccola, on 9 April 2020

Niccola and Lizzie share their thoughts on the current situation for us all in relation to coronavirus and what this means for the Centre for Co-production

How are you coping at the moment? We’re both feeling pretty similar – lucky and thankful about our personal situations, but still sometimes struggling to say positive. We know others are feeling the same, or going through some harder times, so as a Centre we’ve tried to do a few small things that we hope might help in this period of coronavirus lockdown. Our #PositivityPosts are one – if you use Twitter please join in! Share things that have made you smile at this time – perhaps some nature you saw out of your window, a recipe you cooked, a craft you started to pass the time, or anything else at all! We’d love to hear about it! If you have something to share but can’t be doing with social media feel free to drop us an email or give us a call instead to tell us. And please let us know if you think of any other things you think we should be doing at the moment, we’d love to hear suggestions!

If you are looking for help in relation to your mental health, the 4 Mental Health website co-created by Centre co-producer Sarah Markham amongst others, is a great place to start. You can also check out our resources blog for more info which might help during this period of lockdown and beyond.

Co-production: more relevant than ever?

These strange and unsettling times have also had another effect – it has renewed our belief in the fundamental need for co-production and the work that we’re doing as a Centre. Now, more than ever, it is vital to ensure that research and decisions being made about our health – and our lives more broadly – does not take place in isolation. These decisions should not be taken by any group alone, but in partnership with those involved in its delivery, and those who will be affected by it in different ways. This is especially important for those whose voices and needs are less often recognised.

A very stark reminder of the importance of co-production came from our friend and Centre community member, who has a child with an underlying health condition. She explained that she had been called up recently by her GP to be asked if she wanted her child resuscitated should they contract coronavirus?! She was understandably horrified, as were we to hear about this. This is the type of thing that co-production would instantly put a stop to. Had our friend, or anyone else like her, been part of the decision-making around this policy to call up families with this question, she would have told them exactly why this was a really bad idea.

We know that co-production isn’t always quick or necessarily easy, and that can be difficult when there are lots of other pressures on our time and resources. But researchers, healthcare practitioners, patients, carers and community members working together to shape research can also save time and resources in the long run. Whether that’s identifying problems which would otherwise not have been spotted until much later, or coming up with new and innovative ideas, the combination of perspectives that co-production brings to the table makes for research which is more meaningful, more likely to reach those who need it, and more likely to make a positive difference to people’s lives.

Hands in the air with speech bubbles above them. (Image credit: https://www.sjuhawknews.com/)

That’s why we’re so passionate about co-production, and why we’ve been coming together to learn about how we do it well, what difference it makes and how we can share that far and wide. As a Centre and a wider community of co-producers, we’re determined to change how health research is designed, delivered and applied in the community, putting people at the heart of all those processes.

And our work carries on! We may not be able to meet face-to-face, but we can do it virtually and we are working on lots of opportunities for you to get involved with – keep a look out for other blogs coming soon where we will share more information.

We know things are hard right now. But we hope that being part of the Centre community can help you feel more positive, more connected, and that you’re making a difference.

We look forward to chatting to you soon!

Thank you as always
Niccola & Lizzie

Get involved in the UCL Centre for Co-production in Health Research

Email Rory coproduction@ucl.ac.uk if you’re curious about the Centre. Or:

  • Let us know if you’d like to join in collaborating on our blog! You could tell us a bit about yourself, share learnings from co-production projects, or let us know if you have any other ideas.
  • Send us resources to feature here next month, or tag us on Twitter @UCLCoPro

If you’d like to keep hearing about what we’re up to and what we’re learning at the Centre, feel free to sign up for our newsletter.

Feel free to email Rory at coproduction@ucl.ac.uk if you’d like a PDF or Word copy of this blog.

(Cover image. Description: an illustration of people of all ages. Image credit: www.sjuhawknews.com)

2 Responses to “Reflections on a changing world: the importance of co-production”

  • 1
    John Norton wrote on 9 April 2020:

    Entirely support every word. The value of effective co-production has been proved time and time again since I first became involved in NW London nearly 10 years ago.

  • 2
    ucjunhu wrote on 9 April 2020:

    Thanks John – this is good to hear!

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