Jak shares her experiences of coproduction and the difference it has made to her life since acquiring a disability. She feels ready to go back to work and develop the skills and experiences she has gained from being involved in coproduction locally. 

so, um hi, Jack. Just gonna invite you to introduce yourself briefly and then talk to me about your experience of coproduction. Thank you. Um, I became disabled seven years ago

Um, and I had a background of working in health and social care and education. Um, I suddenly became the person that needs to be cared for, as opposed to delivering care. Um, from there, um, I've worked closely with Stockton Borough Council

There have been the person been, uh, given me a personal budget and things. Um, So I started off with care agency, then, uh, migrated to a managed account, uh, on personal budget and then migrated to have, um, me doing it myself. Self directed support

And these projects kept emerging. The Stockton Borough Council. And there were opportunities to sit on social work panels, interviewing social workers for jobs

And because of my background, I I found it. So I approached the manager and I said, Yes, I'd like to do this. So I started sitting on interview panels with social workers, and I really enjoyed it

Um, we got to ask questions. We got to sit and do some of the pre planning with the panel and and I felt really included as a service user and as a person who lived experience, really, And I was quite chuffed that my co bothered so much that, um, their citizens could inform kind of, you know, certain questions. So, uh, made some very good questions, so and got to ask those and we got involved with the, um, after processes as well

So after the interview had finished, we got to sit with the panel and we couldn't automatically choose the person that got the job. But we could give our opinions across, and I felt that my opinion was valued and because that was my first experiences around co production, I had the enjoyment of it. But I felt that I was listening to and it was active listening

We weren't just heard. We were able to, you know, it informed their future practise. So every time I went and I did kind of four or five days of this, you know, for different teams in the end and got a bit of a taste for it, Um, they try to use different service users and not the same ones all the time, so there's a great rotation

Um, but I'd do it again if they asked me. But then I've I've I've kind of gone on to do other elements of co production as well, and I've been asked to do little tasks of Do I not want to contribute to this blog or contribute to that blog? And so I think that my council do it very well. Um, I think that they demonstrate a real care about what we would like to see for the picture of, you know, the future of social care

Really. And I think that there's the value there and because the accessibility side of things is sorted, we can, uh, participate online. We can participate on telephone, we can participate in person

And I know some service users even the offer of making a sharp video with their question in it and posting that, you know, um, I found it quite surreal that I was sat in a room full of PayPal, and I'm the only person facing the candidate that was on a computer screen. But for me, the accessibility being met and the fact that they widen participation that way was, you know, really I I think they should be commended, really? For that. And it it made me just feel like I could do it

I started to have a little bit of self belief. I spent seven years, um, trying to find my self belief and trying to find the word again. Um, I'd woken up on the stroke where I had become very ill and then developed another neurological condition on top

And for me, I had to find Jack again. And I generally would say, Cat, that coproduction has helped me find me again. And that's because it's involved me

And there's been some diversity towards projects that we could get involved in, and they have so many things ongoing. Um, I felt that the processes of planning core production, um, have been brilliant. Um, this year I've done something, uh, terribly exciting

I have gone one step further and initiated by Stockton Council. Um, I become involved in delivering a workshop at the Spring Seminar of Air, which to me, I was like, Oh, we've gone from doing interviews to the top of the tree. But last year, as well as doing the interviews, I was involved in a working group for, uh, about four months

We met once a week, and it was a panel of Stockton Borough Council workforce with the assistant director to adult social care. And we were planning on delivering a week of training to social workers that put me in the driving seat to deliver a day, but not only deliver, but also look at setting some of the key themes for the week. I got to put videos together and put some of my training or some of my background essentially before I got ill into delivering a week that would help social workers celebrate their learning

Um, and we're also I got to talk about my life and my life story, Um, which is a bit complicated, but, um, I've had quite a diverse path and pathway to get to where I am now and because it gave me the opportunity to do that. It also inspired me to have some self belief that my background has made me I have something to offer because it was this coproduction kind of opportunity to really teach people I look up to. You know, social workers are more trained than I and more you know, But for me to have something valuable to say was the most rewarding thing for me

So it was there for a piece of work. But it was about the good that it would do just by me talking and setting themes. And so I enjoyed the working group

It was marvellous. But because of my involvement in this, you know, lead to a festival of learning. This week it was called and because of my involvement on that, I got to kind of move on to this a a piece of work that we've just delivered at the spring seminar

And that was the same. It was taking part in a working group. But this time the working group wasn't stuck in Borough Council

So it was all the councils in the region. So to me, it was a step up, and I was like, Oh, I feel really special and out of place at this place. But they were all for it

And, you know, we have a co-production ladder that's always talked about and the levels of interaction really of coproduction. I'd say when I did the interview, I was kind of on run seven and run six and things. And then when I'd done the working group, the Festival of Learning were on kind of five and four tiny glimmers of three

Maybe, you know, a little snippet of number one. I feel genuinely that the work I've just done with North Beast over the last couple of months, culminating in appearing at the spring seminar to deliver a workshop. I was in the driving seat and I managed to convince a das northeast it was very good, and it was a good idea to put a service to use it in the driving seat, and it wasn't a hard sell

I feel that they were very, very pro supporting a service user to achieve that, and they helped me achieve my full potential through doing that. Um, so we did a short video, Um, and it was all about the benefits that putting a service user into the driving seat or inviting them into it into the driving seat would not only benefit them as an organisation in terms of their growth in the council, and it would help to, um, bolster services and help to revolve services really, to the social care future that we're all striving for. Um, I felt that it grew me

That was the the bit that I didn't expect. I didn't expect that when I had completed doing all a working group and planning for this session and even producing an animation and a video for the session. I didn't believe for one second that I would come out of it feeling a little bit more complete than I did before I went in

And what has it done for me? Well, co producing at that top tier that top three runs for a couple of months within this air das project in, In, In, In Delivering and going to deliver some workshops after that or going to back to a DA Northeast and some of the care we want Network And, um, the lived experience network with air. I've been going kind of once every couple of weeks to all these meetings and to redelivering that presentation that I've had, um, we use something quite innovative and we come up with the idea of using QR code. So not only do people get the benefit of having the workshop delivered to them at the spring conference um that they got to take away a little with a QR code on that

So I've kind of put a presentation together with it. That's Northeast. And, um, I felt that they really trusted me in the floor cord idea

Stick a floor cord to a car, and what that will allow people to do is scan it with their mobile phone app and pull up my story in printed farm. And, um, the benefits that co production has brought to me and the benefits of being in the driving seat not only for my own care, but being in the driving seat for co production as well and and and putting a service user really at the top, sometimes to be a driver. Um, there's so many co-production little things that I've been involved in in my pathway

But for me, I have grown most where I've been able to operate at the top three tiers, being able to actually say, You know what? I've got the lived experience and I have the expertise to actually go back because, you know, I think that when we get care and I think when we get, you know, acquired disability like I have and acquired illnesses after been so fiercely independent in my life. I feel that we get labels and nobody, you know, and we we're dealt with with a little bit of unconscious bias, I think. And I I don't think it's intentional half the time

But before I got ill or disabled, I used to introduce myself as Jack. I am Jack. I like art

I like cooking. I work in social care. I work in education

I love developing and delivering resources and training. Now, um, you get into the habit of saying, Have a care package, have piers and these become the predominant features of kind of labels that you think are the most important to mention to people at that time. And I think it's just adaptation

We switch ourselves and revert ourselves to a new normal. And I think what co production has done to me is flip that back co-production at that top kind of level and having a greater level of autonomy. So it does not

I mean, Stockton Council ought to be commended. Fall rebuilding and help me find me. You know, I've got a neurological condition that affects my central nervous system almost and and, um, the S, as they call it, Um and they've allowed that to kind of unfurl in me, so I won't make my elements of disability disappear

They all are permanent, but it's how I deal with my disability. So I like to see it as that. I've got different ability now, and Co-production has helped build a new, better Jack and I've learned to have so much resilience and tenacity and things

And I've always grown up with that dog get me wrong but co production and being able to be me again beyond my disability and beyond my care, and to be engaged on a project for what you can bring to it the values that you can bring, the behaviours that you can exhibit all of your past, background and training, where your interests are, where your passion is because that's harnessed through co production. And I feel that that has been something that's been promoted by Stockton Council. And, um, you know, I feel like I want to go back to work now and secretly behind the scenes

Uh, I will let you know, and I will let whoever is gonna receive this information, and I will let you Probably So, um, I'm actually wanting to go back out and do some consulting, say, as a person with lived experience, I am setting up a website and I've just newly brave Twitter. I'm kind of new to Twitter, and I only went back onto a set up account in January and then didn't do it, and I'm a confidence dropped out. But then I did some production, and now I'm actually a fully fledged Twitter member, and I'm tweeting regularly, and I like to tweet about when I've had interactions with Corp production, and I like to share information and help other people now

And I really like to sell Corp production because it's helped me with my emotional growth. It's helped me with, um, my day to day life with my tasks of daily living so normal care tasks, because I thought that my I've had a routine now of getting get ready, get washed, get dressed, get breakfasted. Let's do that earlier and be more motivated with that because I have a work day ahead, and my work day may only have been two hours of coproduction meetings but that for me has I've begun

So you know what I say. You know what? I sat through all of that interaction, cat. I sat through all of those tasks, and I achieved that

I actually managed to say to the people on the thing, Do you know what it's three o'clock kind of need to bob off and have, uh, nine tablets, two syringes of medication and sick and coffee now and leave back out to take me to the load. But I've become that confident and and And that adapted co production. Now I just say, Right, I'm back in 10 minutes, and I don't tell them where I'm going

They know, or they don't need to know. So I've become more confidence in saying, Look, this is me. I'm not gonna tell you what's wrong with me

I'm not gonna tell you the ins and outs of my heart with my illness, so if I'm allowed to be like that, But I just want to people to see the ability and the education and the expertise that I had before I acquired disability, um, be disabled matters in some cases because I'm able to let people know that if they're struggling with aspects of rehabilitation or struggling with aspects of re, that I can kind of mentor in that area. And I think that's so important to not forget that I've overcome challenges and I've overcome barriers. And one thing about co production I can tell you is the whole core production world is evolving now to have so much growth and and and and because we're working and and and people like actually you know, there's so many of organisations, you know who you are involved with, um and and and have changed

Um, at the end of the day, you know you are working towards helping people like me have relevant practise and work experience and engagements that are worthwhile. They're engaging and they are bringing benefit to our lives. And that's what I say for me, that core production has given me so much benefit

I now feel that I've been able to sit through that to participate and my participation has been widened. So I had more opportunities now because the world of co production is evolving rapidly. Um, that I feel I can go and get a job I can do that for a day

Right, Jack? I now tell myself I am more than capable of having a part time job from home. I've got my peers for support, and I wouldn't have thought that was possible. Three years ago Mm

I thought it was amazing that the counsellor had put me forward for an award for being a you know, an on independent employer. And I thought that was a big thing at the time. But no, actually, I think co production and I think the forward thinking focus of people like Stratton Borough Council and a small things have been the integral cog into me Now, being in a position to feel that I now have employability skills again

What? What do you think it is that, um, a das Northeastern Stock and Council have have done that has enabled that or allowed that What? What? What's contributed to to co-production working so well for you and I and I say that and not look it not necessarily any tangible things. It could be, you know, just the fact that they've given you space or the trust or the relationships or those kinds of things as well. But What do you think? Has really helped

First and foremost, I think that I saw a list of ways not to do it and reasons not to do it. And they were kind of immersed in a lack of self belief and self confidence. And when you are disabled at home, you and you have got all you've got to suddenly get to side one side of your body

You help them, you need help getting new food you need. You can't make a hot drink yourself. You forget to take your tablets and your medication

So self doubt grows like a snowball rolling down a hill when you have. You know, when I I have had acquired disability. So you've got to unlearn those behaviours and what the the key is was I went to them with a list of barriers as to why I couldn't do it

They remove those barriers. So I think the key that Stockton Borough Council have had and Northeast have had are air building self belief and confidence and naturally knowing that they have to do that or they should offer some kind of emotional support around resilience for that. But then they've also got to address barriers, and they very successfully turned barriers into herds farming

I couldn't get out of the house when I first started co production because we were mid pandemic and I was classified as extreme, clinically, extremely vulnerable to covid. So I was isolating even from my family. Um, they just made the impossible possible, right, Jack, you don't have to come in

Use the Internet if you can't use the Internet and you don't want it, you know, Internet need. Should we do it off the phone? If you can't do that, would you like to write things down and send them in? So it was all of these possible accessibility routes that they mapped out and they had these preplanned and Prethought. Um, so I think they were quite organised Well, for coal production, Um, and it was always just do as much as you want or try a little bit more, try a little bit more, and I become more confident, you know, by you know, I used to do interviews for the social worker interviews with I mentioned earlier on, and I become that confident

I was actually not taking part in the feedback. Afterwards, I developed my own form. I developed my own box on my own, and then it gives them a resource back to use with other people with lived experience

So I've learned to. So those are the key drivers. For me, those were the things that I feel that they have done well, what I found it when I've been engaging what's also been an an important thing that they have done well is listening to the feedback taking on board the feedback that I have been able to give them, as you know, down to the language that we use when we represent ourselves the workshops

Um, so for me, I feel like I've had this immersive journey that started like a little small pot from has rolled down it, and I think it's only got better farming. And what we've got at the bottom when this big snowball has turned into something quite massive is I myself have been able to roll ahead and put it on top of this snoble, and it's become a person, and that person is me, and it might be quite hard to use, but for me, it has had so much personal growth and so much difference within my self belief and hope for my future, I thought all hope was lost. If you'd have asked me three years ago, I'd just written myself off

I would have done. But now Mum's happy. Yeah

You know, I'm putting my CV to Kevin. I'm now a member of the Institute for Health and Social Care Management. Um, tomorrow, I'm gonna go and sit on with a working group for, uh, social innovators with them

I've been getting myself on E courses and doing a lot more training. So, really, it's been a precursor for my reentry into the world of employment and into the world of education again. So I found Megan through co-production

So for that, I can't. Is there anything else you want to add, Jack, before I stop the recording? Um, I can't think of anything. Cash

Um, Can't think of anything at all. I think I've rambled on if you could make some sense of all of that nonsense. Uh, but for me, because of the journey that I've had, I'll always have a passion for it

And I always want to do it to participate. Um I just started. I got confidence to join

Um, the Coproduction Collective University College, London. Um and I sat in on something with them. I am doing a piece of work with them

Um, so my first bit of earning Yeah, seven years. So So, you know, it's obviously all the work I've been doing over the last three years. The co production has been unpaired

So now it's quite a novel thing that Oh, hang on a minute. I really And and you know, that is something I'm trying to tackle and change now is getting people to think about co production in terms of, Well, hang on, it just have this huge benefit for us. It does have this huge benefit for you, but is there something more that we could be doing to make it feel like the world of work as well? And I know budgets have their constraints

But is there something that people can do to maybe contribute to that person's living situation as well? And you know it's not. Not everybody will want to be paid. Not everybody wants to take it as a job

But do you know what I feel like coproduction has been this huge, great big catapult human catapult, and it's projected to be back into being able to have the self belief that I can work again. Hm, That's it. I'm just banging on cash


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