Coproduction: Nothing about me, without me

Fresh from delivering my first ever presentation at a professional conference #RCSLT2021, I've been reflecting a lot about coproduction. Many of the presentations across the three-day conference had an element of coproduction at their core. Yet I was left wondering why my service still felt so unique on this front.

What makes Indigo special is having trans and non-binary people at the forefront, behind the scenes and everywhere else in between. Most of my colleagues are gender-diverse. Our Coproduction Group - made up of trans and non-binary people - has been with us from the very beginning, designing and shaping everything we do. At Indigo, coproduction isn't an afterthought or a 'nice-to-do'. We live and breathe it. It's what makes our service so successful. If you want to make sure your service meets the needs of the community it's there for, why NOT have that community involved in running it? Why NOT have that community lead the way?

In my experience coproduction so often seems to be tokenistic. Coproduction isn't a project. Coproduction is a culture. When we start treating our service users as equals and experts by experience, we open ourselves up to learning a lot more about them than medical textbooks and training will teach us. We also shine a light on the power imbalance that pervades medical model thinking. For me, coproduction has allowed me to learn:

  • the impact of language on how people feel

  • that I don't know what's best for my service users - they do!

  • that people prioritise different aspects of care

  • that listening, learning and acting are great ways to show allyship.

So say goodbye to your ego. You don't know what's best for someone else. You learn what's best with that someone else.

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