A Better Future – Co-production in Torfaen

What would social care for people with learning disabilities look like if the people who used services designed, developed and decided what was needed?

In Torfaen and across the counties of Gwent we are on the brink of finding out.

As a former manager of provider services, I am personally challenged but ultimately excited by the prospect. I am convinced that the people who have experience of receiving services are a beacon of good sense and that many of the best ideas in social care come from the grassroots.

In October this year, I began the journey as innovation and development manager in Torfaen County Borough Council. The post, funded by the intermediate care fund, has the brief to coproduce a plan for new ways of working and delivering services for people with learning disabilities.

I have been lucky enough to enlist the excellent support of Barod (a training and information company whose owners are a mix of disabled and non-disabled people), Torfaen People First and other People First groups across Gwent as advisors and co-producers respectively.

Together we have developed some principles for our work:

  • People with experience of using services will decide upon the final recommendations
  • We will make sure that the voices of people with learning disabilities are put first
  • All the documents we produce will be as accessible as possible
  • We will work with other people and organisations involved with people with learning disabilities to include their ideas
  • We will find out about the best ideas and make them accessible
  • We will involve people using their strengths
  • People will be reimbursed for their time and expenses
  • We will use person centred communication

The final report will be published in April 2017, concluding a series of workshops and network events across Gwent. It will be easy read and will include business cases for new services and enterprises.

We have found many examples of good practice but would be interested to hear from anyone who has good ideas, knows of something that works well or wants to help in other ways.

Jim Wright – Innovation and Development Manager Torfaen County Borough Council

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