Working in partnership with patients to take control of mental health services

Understanding that co-production between service users and staff in mental health services can be crucial to a successful workforce

Co-production is about people taking equal control of their services (Cahn 2004, Nef and Joseph National Foundation 2012, Ostrom and Whitaker 1973).

There is a philosophy behind co-production which is concerned with democracy, the sharing of power, reciprocity and mutuality, blurring distinctions, and building on people’s skills (Slay and Stephens 2013). In my own doctoral research, I have realised that generally there does not seem to be an understanding of this philosophy.

The idea of co-production is that there are equal amounts of control and power for service users (patients) and healthcare professionals. In service delivery, what actually happens is that there is co-production where there is a genuine working relationship with service users (Arnstein 1969). More often than not, this equality and democracy fizzles away into services being ‘done for’ service users, and ultimately services being ‘done to’ service users. Clearly, the


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