Mark shares his experience as an independent co-producer from Essex.


Being independent means he can participate in or facilitate co-production projects with an open mind, and give his experience.

He has lots of experience in co-production, but the one he shares in the story is about setting up a local group to improve services, coproduction and codesign. They focus on changing services for people with mental health challenges and learning disabilities. Health trust had identified that there were problems with the services and wanted the people who use the services to be involved in transforming them. The storyteller had used the services long ago, but they knew his co-production experience so asked him to join with healthcare professionals, and gave them a blank page. Honesty about not being able to fix everything, going into the conversation with an open mind. Organised focus groups. Small, minute changes. Although he uses and respects terms like lived experience and living experience, he prefers to introduce himself as Mark - and for people to share their names and interact as people. He thinks co-production works well when there is no agenda. Co-production needs thought and care. He would welcome more pulling-together from across different areas of co-production.


Yeah. Thank you for agreeing to have a chat about co production over a brew. I want to introduce yourself. Yeah, I'm my name's Mark Dale I'm from Essex, and I'm an independent co producer. What does an independent co producer me, Um, I'm independent, so I've got no sort of, I suppose, extra grind. So when I go into a co producing or co design or co production project, I'm not sorry to either way So any party I'm there completely with an open mind, completely looking at all different angles and actions, Um, and just trying to give my sort of, I suppose my experience, whether it be good or bad, Um, and that's really what I try and do. Um Thanks, Mark. So can you share with me an experience of co production that you've been involved in or done? I've got various, but one was setting up a group where we was looking at changing the services So it was a coproduction activity, but it was also very much co design. Um, the area where I live. We're looking at changing specific services for people with mental health and learning disabilities Um, the organisation, if the healthcare Trust knew that there was something very amiss and things were not working. And they said the best people to I suppose. Look at it It would be the people that use the services. Um, I had used services of this particular area, but it has been a long time. Um, and they knew what I was sort of doing in the past and in the future and and and presently with with article production And they said to me, How about, you know, sort of coming in. So at least there wouldn't be, um it's just, you know, sort of all, you know, sort of health care professionals, etcetera. It's actually going to come from a lived experience point of view Um, so they asked me to do that. They said to me about what the project would be. Um, they said that the bank, the page was blank, etcetera, exactly what I love to do And they said, you know, we can't promise everything, but we can promise some things and we want it to be on an honest scale. We want people whose lived experience to shine through as well as people who cared for people Um and I took on the role because it was something that was not sort of having lots of agendas behind it. It was completely, you know, as I said, a page to say, Look, you know, we're going to be honest, We can't fix everything, but we want to go into this sort of conversation with an open mind And it was it was a great way of working and funny enough where they actually said that they couldn't fix everything. In fact, they did a lot of the stuff that came out of the various different focus groups I organised and group meetings. Um, some of the changes were actually quite quite my new and small, you know, they were quite easy to change Oh, thank you. Really important insights and reflections. So, um, you okay for me to move us on to another question? So I have a question really relates to, um So I had a question in my head around you used the word lived experience How does that work within co production? Um, well, I mean, to be perfectly honest, I use it, but I also use living experience, but I actually try to sort of open out for people to use their own names and and ways they want to be, you know, sort of spoken about or how they feel comfortable. You know, we say we always go on two different things, right? And we always go into different, um, you know, sort of meetings, etcetera. And we're boxed anyway because we might have experience of healthcare or social care services or whatever So all of a sudden you're like a user or you're a past user or whatever. Um, I try to sort of limit the usage of saying about lived experience or living experience, because all I just tried to say is, Look, you know, I've been similarly places where you have my name's Mark, and that's specified doing it, because then people can feel comfortable and say, Well, you know, that's Mark and I'm bloody blah and I've got similar experiences as well. Um, so it's getting out that box and just using our names I think that sometimes that's a good way of doing it. Thank you were also interested in exploring what worked well and what didn't work so well. Would you be able to share any insights into kind of what worked Well, what might not have worked. Well, um I mean, I said earlier about sort of going into something without any agendas. I think that works really well, I think that if you're honest up from, um to actually say, look, you know, sort of this is what we want It works really well, because then you know, and and it's never a point of that any kind of involvement. Co production, etcetera, um is always valued every bit of it. If you're actually getting people around the table or getting people to look at services, et cetera, that is a really good move The problem is, though, that works. Things that don't work very well are things where there is always that sort of agenda. Well, look, we're not telling people the 100% truth about this, you know, this is what we've got in mind Um, and we want to steer it this way. That doesn't work for me. And it's not true Valued co production that is a little bit sneaky. And and for me, I don't really like it. What works well is where people say, look cards on the table This is what we can offer or this is what we're doing. And can you help us with this and help us? I'm talking about that on the same level as everyone around the table because co production isn't only about the user carer or consumer or customer or whatever you want to call us. It's about the staff as well So it's 50 50 approach, you know, sort of around the tape. So I've really got on a journey review by speaking to so in my mind of what? CO two production being this process. So my next question is around, um, so thinking about co production and the process of co production Um what? What? Has it changed? Negative or positive? That can be. And what impact does it have on, um, you know, people, organisations, services and society. So I'm wondering about Yeah, I think that sometimes you can look at co production or co design or all the different aspects of the ladder Um, that sometimes it's about five steps forward and sometimes seven steps back. I think things have changed. I think that if you use people, um, proactively rather than reactively, I think that things change and also people feel good about themselves because you're using them and you're using their expertise The problem is, is so is that sometimes people are very fearful of co production. They believe that they are doing co production or they believe they're trying to do something. And sometimes it's always don't get me wrong It's always in a good will weigh. You know, people always want to try and do the best, but sometimes they practically they don't sort of like in their heads or down on paper. It looks brilliant, you know But when it's actually done practically, it really does fall down a lot. And what you have to try and do is that people have to be mindful about what they're doing before they're doing it. And I think that that's where sometimes people, um that's where it falls down That's where it falls down because the thing is that they have not really thought about it in the way of how do we move things forward? What do people think about these sort of things? How can we help? I don't know, you know, sort of. It could be something very silly abouts of payment policies, etcetera. Now that can fall down quite a lot because if you have not thought about in your room, you're going to have everyone that's on sale benefits Let's say and they can't take the inducement or the gift that you're going to be giving. Well, you're not doing it right, you know, so you can have a little bit of forethought. But things have changed Things have got better that one of the big things I think that there needs to be is a little bit of putting together of co production from various different areas because there's so many organisations that are doing it now. And there's so many big, overarching organisations doing it. Um, you get lost in who's doing it correctly So it's like, you know, you can go into one project and they're saying we're the best since sliced bread, and then you go on to another project and saying, Well, we are the best things, you know, milk was produced that it's like, Oh, God, you have sort of they're doing it so differently, but they're doing it in their own way. So yeah, five steps forward, seven steps back, but always be mindful where you've come. So the question that I really wanted to ask was around the impact of co production, the value of co production and how this has affected or plays out people's lives, organisations, lives or services or societies lives Um, I think I think the people that know about it if you're looking at social care or services, people live in it all day, every day, you know, sort of 24 7. And I think that they will know about what is good, what is bad or it's different. And I think that now, if you get services to actually say, Look, we're gonna part ownership with you, your services, you know, we are going to give this this service to you as much as it is to us I think that is the way forward, and that is the value. And I think that people feel better within social care. I think people feel better in their homes because if they live in, uh, supported accommodation, if they live in some kind of, uh centre or sort of complex etcetera, they feel that they're being listened to in health care If you're go in and you know you've got to speak about the health care that you're being provided with. It's always good for you to have your say as much as the professionals on the other side of the desk. And if you do have that, say, if you do have a proper C and you also are owning that part of your health care, you feel better and you actually have a better response And it has better outcomes for me. You know, I always feel that I've done something. It's almost like a therapy for me when I've done a piece of co production with other people, because afterwards, if it's done right, you go along and go I'll tell you what. That was a really good project, and we've really made a difference. But sometimes it comes down to having to go Oh my God, that was just, you know, sort of. You know, that's that's why I've got no debt. My hair has been pulled out It's not about that. I'm losing my hair because or whatever. It's just like sort of I've gone to places and it's gone. Oh God, yeah! Clumps of ever fell out, you know, Um, but luckily enough, that's only a few and far between now. So hopefully I'll be going back, as you can see, that the side So thank you for sharing that. So I've got a couple more questions. So if you were going to sum up co production in the sentence of a word, what would that be? And my second question would be any top tips to people Um, I've got to say that it's not so much negative because it is a little bit of positive as well. Um, to somewhat covered production. I think it's hard work but were called in So a sentence there for you, Um, and any top tips? Um, there's loads of tips. But if you're a person that's going to be first, you know, dipping your toe in the water of coproduction. First of all, do it because you're never going to regret it You know, if it's true co production, you are going to feel so fantastic afterwards because you have been part of change. And that is what coproduction produces. Um, so do that But also be mindful that if it doesn't feel right, get out. Don't don't don't carry on with it, because if you feel that it's, you know, you're you're there just for everyone around the other room. You know, just to nod at you because you're the token person because that's the way it is Then get out because it's not going to be good for you. It's not good for the for their perceived change because they've got you in and it's just sort of like it's it's like banging your head against the wall. So don't those are the two tips for me, you know, try it because you probably in the main will like it But if it does feel a little bit, you know, and everyone's got like when a bell at the back of the head where that if it doesn't feel right, it's sort of dangling or anything like that. You know, like Nagy's out like, not these little hat that you used to wear when that starts, Then get out and and and don't apologise either. Just get out You don't have to. You don't have to give up. You don't have to give excuses You don't have to give anything. Just say not right for me. Thanks And would you say co production has an impact? Definitely. Definitely. It has impacts because, say, you've you've had some kind of service which has been co designed and co produced by people that use it Loved ones that have people that use the services and also the people around the table. You know, the professionals as well They've they've put their heart and soul, so to speak into this service, it's always going to be better, because it's something. It's almost like if you, you know, like if you're a good baker, you know, And I'm not talking about Paul Hollywood standard here, but I'm talking about, you know, like you love having, you know, making a lovely cake on a Sunday afternoon Um, you do it because you get through love and almost that love comes out into the cake. It almost tastes better because, you know, you put so much care into sort of a Well, you know, you're gonna put that little bit of spice into it and that you know lots of fruit and all this sort of stuff, and it's a bit like coproduction you if you put you know, that sort of your experience into that. It makes it feel like that the services are done in love And I'm not talking about preacher love. I'm talking about that. It's doing it in a in a way that is going to be right for future people using the service or whatever you've done in co production Even to the point of if you co produced a magazine or a leaflet, you can see that it almost comes off the page that that has been put together with love and care, and that is the best thing about it. Thanks, Mark. I don't have any questions Any final foods? Uh, any final thoughts? It's just literally sort of whatever you're doing. If it's in a co productive way, do it. Enjoy it Um, but as I said again, if it doesn't feel right, get out and and find something that's gonna value you as much as the value in the co production. Thank you. I'm going to stop the recording if you're okay with that Yeah,.

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