6. Stories

We are co-producing projects alongside experts by experience and stakeholders in Adult Social Care. Read more about these projects in the stories below and visit the get involved page to find out how you can join in.

You can also share your experience of working with us by contacting workingtogether@nottscc.gov.uk.

We have been co-designing our  Disability Related Expense Allowances. Sarah Craggs, our co-production worker talks about it in a Think Local Act Person blog post.

Marion Wardill and Mary Read talk about working together on Strength Based Approaches

By Helen Yates, Nottinghamshire Carers Association

In all honesty, 12 months ago, I’d never talked about Co-Production. We were asked by Nottinghamshire County Council to support with a new listening space for carers and professionals, helping to develop and run it from the very beginning stages in October 2021.

Our planning group was brought together, made up of carers, council officers and NCA staff. It took several meetings to start to unpick what we wanted to achieve and what we wanted it to look like. One of the challenges for me, was realising how much time it would take to reach agreements and move things forward given the co-productive nature of the project. Listening to everyone, taking on everyone’s views and reaching agreements lead to long discussions, lots of exchanges and editing of documents and managing a range of expectations.

The most positive element of this co-production for me, was knowing that we were making decisions jointly, it was everyone’s responsibility and everyone had an equal buy in to strive to make the project a success. This is an empowering way of working, feeling like a shared process, rather than a project with one leader bearing the responsibility. We’ve built strong working relationship, built on mutual understanding and respect of everyone’s experiences and expertise.

After several ‘foggy’ meetings, we got to a point where our terms of reference were clear, we knew what we were setting out to do, and we were ready to open the Carers Space Notts up to a wider audience. We took time to get things where we wanted them to be, giving us more confidence in the ideas.

Our first online meeting in January, featured a guest speaker, Dan Godley, from NCC talking about Carers Assessment. We had a good audience, made up of carers and professionals who’d come along to find out what we were trying to do. This continued into our second meeting, where we talked about Co-Production and carers shared their experiences of different co-production projects they’d been involved in.

Following each online meeting, the planning group met to evaluate and plan next steps. This continuous review process is what has helped us to develop Carers Space Notts and continue to reflect and adapt what we’re doing and how we are sharing information.

Now we’ve got 4 online meetings under our belts, we’ve recognised the need for the meetings to have an agenda to draw people in, but to enable each one to have space for discussion also, often in smaller groups so people can feel heard. We’ve also realised that Carers Space Notts needs to be much more than a monthly online meeting. We need to share information through multiple communication routes. We need to go out face to face and talk to people, hearing their views. We need to follow up with answers to questions, even if the answer is to say, we don’t know.

We are working on building the profile of Carers Space Notts, creating its own identity away from Nottinghamshire County Council and Nottinghamshire Carers Association. This will include a stand-alone website, advertising and face to face promotion of the Space. We want professionals and carers to have two way conversation, in equal partnership to discuss the issues they’re facing and find the answers to their questions.

Through Carers Space Notts we hope to continue the challenging conversations and the wealth of information sharing that we’ve started over the last six months. Our planning group is integral to everything we do, no decisions are made without them. In this way we are a co-produced co-production group. And proud to be so.

‘It’s refreshing to be able to have a voice about how services for families with disabled children can be improved and actually feel listened to through the Carer’s Space’ Helene, Parent Carer

‘Co-production means carers working with professionals as equals, helping them to understand what works, what doesn’t and why. Working to improve services by sharing lived experience and insight’ Adrian, Carer

‘The best thing about Carers Space Notts is knowing that things (within the council and services), are moving, even if they’re moving slowing, that’s why I’m involved. It’s exciting.’ Pam, Carer

To get in touch or find out more:

Email carersspacenotts@nottinghamshirecarers.co.uk or visit the website​​​​​​​

Social Media
Twitter and Facebook: @Carersspace

Dan Godley (Commissioner) talks about working on the Carers Strategy together with carers

The Direct Payment Enquiries Team have a goal to ensure Direct Payments (DPs) are appealing to people who require social care support as well as ensuring they have access to all relevant information to support them to manage their DPs independently. To support this a group of people who have a DP and members of the DP team met to rewrite all the Council's DP factsheets. They also redesigned a public webpage. The group worked collaboratively to ensure all of the Council's DP factsheets were consistent in format and used clear language that was jargon free. 

You can also watch Dean explain his involvement in a project designing information for people who use a Direct Payment.

When I was invited to get involved in the Complaints Task and Finish Group, as someone who had experience of using the service, I was keen to help. I had always found the complaints team to be a very helpful and effective service in resolve issues that I had, but with some concerns that the service had not always acted as I would have expected.  

Having previous experience of Task and Finish work with Nottingham Link a predecessor of Healthwatch, I knew Co-production had the potential to make an important contribution to the big challenges that social care faces.  

Co-production is simply people working together in a meeting of minds, coming together to find a shared solution for the benefit of all sides.  Working with other partners in an equal way to provide the service my son receives in an individual and personalised way, through a direct payment, offering more control over those services in a cost-effective way is an example of co-production at an individual level.  

Getting involved in the complaints group is an example of co-production at a service level where the outcome would hopefully improve experiences for a wider group of people. 

When the group started, we jointly developed the draft terms of reference and agreed we needed to look at ways to improve the quality of complaint responses and ensure that the complaints policy for Adult Social Care and Health (ASCH) was appropriate Together we agreed that the targets were clearly defined and achievable in the time set.    

Because the complaints policy was already being reviewed, it was shared with the group and we were given the opportunity to meet with Jo Kirkby, the Complaints Manager to discuss any concerns.  The group supported and encouraged each other to contribute, everything was open to discussion. The professionals not only listened, but if appropriate modified the policy. Clearly not everything that was suggested was appropriate to include but explaining things ensured everyone gained a shared understanding of the issues and the best solutions.  

To me it makes sense that those who use a service are best placed to help design it, balanced with professionals removed the boundaries between receiving and delivering services, while maintaining a focus on the outcomes we had set.  

When the group identified a need for staff training in how to respond to complaints the Complaints Manager shared the work that had been prepared, giving us confidence that it would be well received and understood as it is made available to staff.  

Co-production introduces the very important concept of reciprocity, where people work together to achieve shared interests and for mutual benefit.   

As an individual I felt valued for my contribution and was rewarded for taking part by achieving positive outcomes, confident that it will improve user and carer experience of services.  Demonstrating a group achieves targets and consequently positive outcomes is essential for any involvement role. 

The final evaluation offered an opportunity for the full group to think about the co-production processes, which we all agreed had been extremely positive.  

The group was well motivated both in terms of leadership and self-motivation of its participants, regularly reviewing progress ensured that it was making a real difference.  Any problems with reviews should allow continuous learning to improve future approaches.  

Co-production produced a clear pathway that is easier to follow for staff, and more suitable for purpose. 

The group recognised everyone’s contribution and developed a two-way relationship as equal partners.   

We all felt the size of the group was small enough for people to feel comfortable and be able to contribute, without being too large. However, it is a balance as a larger group could have raised more concerns and also ideally we could have had a greater diversity. - Adrian Hartley  

Mark has shared his experience about being involved in an interview and why it matters that people are included in decision-making:

“It’s fantastic. Everyone should have the chance to take part and help to pick new staff.

I know what good staff look like and getting people to help pick them out means they are likely to the right people and stay in the job longer.

Getting asked to be part of interviews makes me feel listened to and appreciated for my experiences.

We know better than anyone what it feels like to get good and bad support”.

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