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Introducing: The Equipment Matters Group

An early view from one of the Medequip staff members of this new group. Several years ago, we challenged ourselves to get better at listening to people who use our services.

We learned about the “ladder of co-production” from Think Local Act Personal Ladder of Coproduction | TLAP | social care (thinklocalactpersonal.org.uk) and started a process of self-reflection based on the social model of disability.

Around the country we have been lucky enough to have been helped and advised by local organisations like Healthwatch, as we get better at listening to and working alongside people who use our services.

But we wanted to make sure co-production was at the heart of our organisation, and to understand what that meant for an independent provider.

So, supported by Community Catalysts, a social enterprise with experience of working in communities, our original idea was to bring together a small group of people who use services, people from the voluntary sector and a few Medequip staff to make sure we were doing our best in co-production and to be something of a “Medequip Account Group”.

We have had three meetings so far and already the group has started to exert its independence from Medequip.

It has changed its name to “Equipment Matters”. The group chose this name because equipment matters to many disabled and older people, not just those who use our services at Medequip. The group wanted Medequip to understand that it was not just interested in helping Medequip to improve, people wanted to influence the wider conversations on how equipment can help people more generally.

So far the Medequip staff have been asked to stop speaking so much in meetings and to stop framing conversation in terms of what the contract requires of us! I’m paraphrasing but the very clear challenge to our improvement ambitions, was “stop hiding behind your commissioners”.

We are working through various aspects of “the service” and have so far looked at Information and the Delivery Speeds and Experience. When they are ready the group will produce an update on priorities and progress. The members agreed that the group needs to agree any work done or communications in its name.

Before the group started there were a number of internal conversations in Medequip about how this group would work alongside service improvement, organisational development and our formal decision making. I expect the people on the Equipment Matters group will listen very politely to our suggestions…then equally politely make their own decision.

I’m learning that the ladder of co-production is hard to climb, and that as you climb you can often end up seeing the world differently. I suspect that’s the point.

Equipment Matters

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