Coproduction blog series: Equipment, coproduction and living great lives
Over the last few months Community Catalysts has been working with large, national equipment provider Medequip. We’ve been helping them to develop approaches to coproduction, customer feedback and community delivery.
Being totally honest we started the work with some early scepticism – not 100% convinced that a big commercial organisation like Medequip was genuinely interested in the joyful BUT always messy world in which we often find ourselves! As time went on, I am pleased to say, they really began to win us over with their genuine commitment to their customers and real interest in the communities they serve. It has also been quite exciting for us because until now we haven’t come across any equipment providers with an interest in creative delivery, community and coproduction.
Work started with the development of a coproduction group made up of people with personal experience of using equipment and aids. Isaac Samuels, a member of the group and freelance coproduction adviser, speaks here about the key role equipment has played in his life and the work to date with Medequip from his perspective…
As someone who has drawn on care support for over 20 years, I feel strongly that disabled people’s voices are central to good service design. When things have gone wrong it has been apparent to me that it’s because we haven’t been at the table or driving the conversation. Often services do not understand the unique needs of individuals and/or services are commissioned based on assumptions or a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
Equipment has played a large part in me being able to live an independent life. It’s enabled me to stay at home doing the things that I love to do. However, this hasn’t been without its challenges as often people have made decisions about equipment that haven’t included me and the equipment has, at times, made my home feel like an institution. I’m passionate about advocating for people with care and support needs being as independent as possible and know some of us need additional equipment to enable this to happen.
Recently it was a delight to be able to share my lived experience of the contribution equipment has made to my life. Not only helping me to be an active member of my community and living in the place that I want to but also enabling me to be less reliant on other people and maintain my independence whilst receiving really good care and support from my PA.
When you live with an energy limiting condition together with chronic pain simple things can make all the difference. Not only does equipment enable me to do small things that all of us take for granted but it also enables me to stay both mentally and physically well. I will never be out of pain but small equipment makes life bearable.
It has also enabled me to have more choice and control over the things that most of us take for granted. For example, when I suffer fatigue even sitting in a chair can be like climbing a mountain, a small piece of equipment such as a perch stool has made all the difference to me. It has meant that I’m able to contribute to everyday tasks such as preparing a meal alongside my Husband (ordinary family life) when I am feeling very fatigued. Now for some people, this doesn’t seem like a big thing but for me at times sitting in the same place of being able to do such a task feels like I’m doing a workout – add in a pinch of pain and then you get the picture.
I know Medequip has recently become a Making it Real champion and has embraced coproduction. It was important for them to be around the table with those with lived and learned experience, to really help shape their work going forward. I felt that Medequip not only listen to us but really wanted to work with us to get it right for people like us. Not shying away from the difficult conversations but embracing them and really looking at how could they offer the best solutions in relation to equipment.
You might be interested in the other blogs in our coproduction series:
- Collaboration, community and coproduction firmly at the heart
- Mediquip and coproduction – what have I learned?