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What is co-production?

7 January 2024

Co-production is a type of involvement in a whole spectrum of involvement methods and approaches.

Whilst it has recently become a bit of a buzzword in health and social care, the idea of co-production has been around since the 1960s and has its roots in the Disabled people’s rights movement.

While there are many definitions of coproduction that have been drafted over the years, we define it as:

  • An approach whereby people who use services, and their carers, work with service providers to make services better.
  • They should be involved from the very start until the evaluation of a project.
  • Everyone should have an equal say and all knowledge and skills should be respected.
  • Co-production recognises service users’ lived experience and how they can think ‘outside the box’ and make things happen. 

The rise of co-production is strongly linked with the disability movement. In fact, we believe co-production is only possible when we adopt the principles of the social model of disability in our work with marginalised, oppressed, and underserved communities.  

Developed by Disabled people, the social model states that people are not disabled by their impairment(s) or condition(s) but by the barriers that are put in place by society and the way it is organised. It is therefore society’s responsibility to remove the barriers that exclude or marginalise people.  

Other useful resources on co-production:

How we can help you

Shaping Our Lives is the leading user-led organisation specialising in inclusive involvement. For over two decades we’ve worked to ensure the voices of those facing the biggest barriers are heard.

Our co-production training

We’ll be announcing the dates for our co-production training shortly. Sign up to our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss out on the places when they are released.

Our services

We work with organisations, such as health services, local authorities, and universities, to make sure your involvement activities are:

  • Inclusive
  • Effective
  • Meaningful

Find out how we can help you