What’s the difference between consultation and co-production? It goes like this.

Generally, consultation is 'here's what we've done, what do you think of it' - result - some tinkering around the edges. Ok - sometimes it's better than this - but generally not much! I actually haven't an issue with that per se, my main problem is about honesty. In other words, don't 'dress' consultation up as something more - unless it really is something more!

So, what is co-production? Ideally this involves engaging people in the design and delivery process from bottom up, and the earlier you can involve them the better. Bottom up design and delivery (if the right people are involved) usually results in a better 'product' that people have real ownership of. And the ownership bit is really important if the people involved are some of the people who are going to be using it (as they usually are).

Ok - are we (H2T) putting our proverbial money where our mouth is? Well sort of. The reality is we designed a product based on the eternal messages coming from the (care and education) sectors… ‘we need to work in person centred ways’, ‘we need to be able to evidence impact’, ‘strength/asset based working is important’, ‘stories matter’ etc etc. But we did the initial work within our development team, we did not involve wider stakeholders in the initial design.

Now we are piloting the system with a wide range of users. These include learning disability services (Cartref Ni and Flintshire Social Services), children's homes (Woodlands), and more recently (just ready to 'take off') homeless people through Working Denbighshire and the Youth Service. And we are making changes based on feedback from users as we go along.

Some of these changes are simple - such as can we have these links at the top of the page. Some involve additional functionality - such as - 'it's great to set goals and outcomes, but we need to be able to add and track specific actions’. For example - 'to be healthy' is a great outcome, but we want to be able to add specific actions such as 'cycle to work' , 'go to the dentist' or 'eat healthier'. People struggle over this outcome stuff (as my earlier blog explored) and this is a neat way to differentiate between an outcome and the activity that (hopefully) leads to the outcome.

This opportunity to pilot our App and make it as fit for purpose as possible is invaluable. Is it true co-production? Well to be honest, probably not. But we are trying our best to make the whole process as honest and positive as possible. Really listening to what people are saying and making changes as we go along. And as Jack Nicholson once said - that's as good as it gets!

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