• David Ford

Co-production in a digital world, how much have we learnt?

Updated: Apr 30

After a month of learning, growing and experiencing co-production in a digital world, we revisited this subject to share our wisdom and learn from others.





Amongst all of the knowledge sharing from around the UK, three main themes seemed to take centre stage.


Platforms.


It is important to recognise that there are lots of different platforms across social media that we can use to connect with people. We should not limit ourselves to thinking that we can only use those that we are maybe familiar or comfortable, rather we should be exploring the different platforms that are available and find out which platforms people prefer to engage on.


There are a couple of things that we can do to help people who aren’t used to using technology to help them learn and overcome any fears or apprehension that they may have.

Firstly, when we are supporting people to learn new technological things, come from a place of patience and without any assumptions.


Secondly make it FUN. We take on new skills or knowledge when we are having fun whilst we are learning. It’s great for taking the pressure off and giving space for people to practice what it is you’re trying to teach. A lot of the technology now has incredible add-ons, you can play around with screens, back grounds, chats polls and so much more. So maybe make the first, or even your next meeting FUN and allow the confidence of the participants grow. Who knows what it might reveal.


Wellbeing.


Isn’t it fantastic how generally everyone is adapting to this new environment and how they are coping! The resilience and fortitude of all of us in our world of co-production is outstanding. We often forget as human beings how incredible we are, especially right now.


But will that resilience and fortitude stand the test of time? Only time will tell, but we must be mindful of the fact that people’s resilience may wane and that they may need support and we must be ready to be there if and when needed.


It’s also incredibly important to be mindful of what happens after a digital meeting. Previously we met in rooms and could gauge how people were, could spot the triggers. And even if we couldn’t do anything, at least we were aware. But that was at a time when people who needed support could easily access it, could talk to their friends, call on their support worker and at the very least connect with another human being face to face and talk. Today it is very different, people finish a meeting and as soon as they switch off their device could be returning to isolation, on their own left with only their thought or triggers from that meeting. Doing a check out and offering time to chat after the meeting might be a way of gauging how people are before they leave and give them the support they need afterwards.


The importance of Co-production.


The world is moving and changing at such a fast pace. Local authorities and providers scrabbling to meet the demands thrust upon them. For them it would be too easy to focus on the NOW, decisions that need to be made, actions to be acted on immediately and what about all of those concerns for the future of the sector?


Co-production has always needed and taken time, time that appears to be scarce right now. So it is important that we keep reminding those vested with the responsibility of creating the changes that are needed that those with lived experience NEED to be involved. As our world evolves co-production cannot stand still, the voices of those we care about and represent have to be involved in the design of our new world. We cannot and must not become forgotten. It is within our gift to ensure that it doesn’t.


Resources.

Good Things Foundation is collaborating with FutureDotNow to help people with digital devices as well as connectivity to support them in getting online during self-isolation/lockdown.


The campaign ‘DevicesDotNow’ is really gaining momentum and linking up with businesses across the country to donate tablets, smartphones, laptops, and connectivity in the form of sims, dongles and mobile hot-spots, to urgently help the most vulnerable people in the UK to get online which will include many clients that our members support. At the moment only organisations who are registered with Good Things Foundation as an ‘Online Centre’ can request free devices and connectivity for their clients but they are planning a second phase when any charity/community organisation will be able to request help.


Good Things Foundation run the LearnMyWay Platform for individual leaners to develop their digital skills and for those who are supporting others to develop their skills/get online (Support Workers etc). The resources are particularly useful for clients with low or no digital skills but there’s a huge range of materials for all different levels. Whilst some of these resources have always been free – the full range previously only available for ‘Online Centres’ have been made available and free to use by anyone and any organisation. They have got lots of tutorials around health and things like zoom meetings and even something for clients on Covid -19.


Make IT click – similar to LearnMyWay for people with very limited digital skills and directs people to useful websites


On Road Media produced this to help those wanting to approach the media and get stories out. There are a couple of useful tips that might, with a slight change of context, help. “Better Stories: How to support people with first-hand experience to do great media interviews” with specific guidance on framing during the Covid-19 crisis.



Our next Conversation on Co-production will discuss ‘Connecting as Equals.’ To sign up, click here. And why not invite someone else to the conversation, so we can spread the word and build a movement!


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