Shropshire Council Adult Services Coproduction Week Reflection


During Coproduction Week, we have asked serviceds to contribute their experiences of and commitments to embedding coproduction across the local area. Tanya Miles, Assistant Director of Adult Social Care and Housing provided us with the below contribution.


It has been an exciting year for co-production within Shropshire’s Adult Social Care.

We’ve been working hard to create the right conditions for co-production to succeed. Simply stated our work is all about people, so we’ve been building relationships, engaging in good conversations, sharing and developing values and principles that focus on being human. We’ve not been afraid to try things out, to realise that we haven’t always got the answer and understand that listening, and learning are central to successful development.     


We’re clear that Co-production is about collaboratively problem-solving, just like any bit of good teamwork. Good co-production is so much about how we behave, how we create the right environment, and build positive long-term relationships.


One area that is benefiting from this approach is our support for people in receipt of a Direct Payment. We had an issue with Direct Payments; people were not taking them up, we did not have many personal assistants to choose from and we were certainly not imaginative and flexible enough in the way they were used. So, during the year we established a Direct Payment Board to drive change. I can say lots about that Board and how good it is to be part of it. But the board didn’t just come from me or staff. I think one of our Board members, Caroline, sums up what’s really important in a far better way than I can. In a small blog, she wrote,

 “I’ve joined a new Direct Payments Board, set up by both staff and people who use Direct Payments, which is also co-chaired in the same way. We want to create a new way of working around Direct Payments in Shropshire – a new culture. As the jargon goes (and there’s a bit of that), we are working co-productively. Myself, Mary and Katie (people who use DPs and PAs) are equal to Tanya, Chris and Rob, managers and staff who look after the system. Together we are looking for ways to bring about change”.

And that’s what we’ve been doing. Together we planned and delivered two development days looking at how we overhaul our Direct Payments system and start to re-humanise ASC into the bargain. 185 people came and shared very moving, very personal stories and experiences; highlighted the limitations and openly discussed what we all want from Direct Payments.

Those days have inspired us to move forward. Since then we’ve co-produced our vision, (here’s a draft visual which we are finalising) and this is now central to all our work.


No one is happy with the visual yet, but we have all agreed the wording and we’ve started to ask ourselves regularly, are we being “open and honest”, “flexible and creative” and “clear and simple”. It’s a good test.

We’ve now got a series of working groups looking at key issues such as the retention and recruitment of PAs, finances and good communication, support planning and our shared ‘take on Direct Payments’ in Shropshire in the form of our policy. Exciting changes are happening and starting to impact on people’s lives. We joined forces with the ‘Mend the Gap’ project to look at support planning and this work has resulted in not just better information for people who use a DP but also changes in the training of social work students at University.  

I’ve focussed in these couple of minutes on our Direct Payments work but we are working co-productively in many areas. Our Making it Real groups and Board continue to stress the importance of experts by experience, so that experts, people who make use of services, are not just involved from day one but are actually the source and drive of change. The Chairperson of the board joins in with our Director’s Management Team meetings on a regular basis.

We’re in the process of a recommissioning the support that is available for carers in Shropshire, and this has been driven and guided from beginning to end by the carers who make use of that support.

And we have excellent involvement from experts in our Mental Health Partnership Board too.

There are lots of examples of coproduction in ASC, and they are very varied (you can see a sample of these in the document below). We know that we still have a lot to do and that one way of working does not suit everyone, something that’s particularly important at the time of the Covid pandemic, but importantly we’re continuing to create the right conditions for coproduction to flourish. 

This is what coproduction means for Caroline;  

“It allowed me to be involved in discussions, sharing ideas with people from across all departments involved in DP provision and management, as well as those of us in receipt. Together we have a common goal for an enriched and positive life. I have to say, it's so nice to see the genuine desire to evolve the DP system. It's been easy from the outside to feel isolated and that the people behind the concrete, don’t care. How wrong have I been!”


As I said at the beginning – it’s exciting times for coproduction.



Example from the document ‘Your guide to being an Expert by Experience.

How Experts by Experience are making a difference. Here’s a glimpse of the conversations and impact that Experts by Experience are having in Shropshire.

Experts by Experience said….  

This led to….

Which resulted in ….

“Complaints and feedback are not taken seriously or used to improve services”



Direct feedback of experiences in workshops for staff.


Training for staff based on carer feedback.



Video created to share experiences, learning and proposed improvements in ways that staff work with individuals and carers.

“Carers are not supported well in Shropshire”



2019 review of carer services in Shropshire which spoke to over 150 carers.



Report with recommendations being taken forward by the Family Carers partnership Board


2020 review of the services provided by Crossroads (formerly CT4All) in Shropshire


“Direct Payments are not well understood by citizens and staff”


“Direct Payments can be restrictive and inflexible for people”

“ DP Support and guidance are inconsistent”

Direct Payments Board established. The Board is co-chaired by an Expert by Experience and the Director of ASC.


The establishment of three Task and Finish groups to review the following key aspect of Direct Payments:


Support Planning.

Recruitment & Support of PAs.

Establishment of an in-house Direct Payments Support Team.


Workshop training involving citizens, staff and TLAP to determine Shropshire’s new approach to DPs.


New quarterly DP newsletter distributed to all people using a DP and ASC staff.


“We want better co-ordination between services”



Close partnership working between Commissioners in Adult Services and the Voluntary and Community Sector.


The establishment of the Wellbeing and Independence Partnership, in which community organisations work closely with the council to provide preventative services.

“We too can improve services”



Shropshire Parent and Carer Council formally recognised as playing a key role in developing services.

SEND Strategic Board is co-chaired by an Expert by Experience.

“Ideas or experiences are often fed back but they disappear in the system”

Shropshire Making it Real meetings try to complete the circle of communication between people experiencing services and people planning and delivering services.

Regular attendance of MiR Chairperson in the Director’s Management Team meeting.


“People with valuable lived experiences to share are not guided to make the most of their experiences”

A group of Experts by Experience and staff working closely together to produce this first ‘Guide to being an Expert by Experience’.

Guide finalised / now being re-thought in the light of Covid-19. .  

There are many areas still to address – so please get involved.

You can make a difference too.


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