Case study: West London Collaborative

To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe. (Anatole France)

There’s something different about the West London Collaborative which makes them an interesting case study. They are a social enterprise which provides a gateway for the NHS and social care sector to work with local people in a different way. They facilitate co-production on a range of levels including commissioning, strategic planning, service re-design and organisational development. I wish they’d been around in my area when I was a commissioner because one of the hardest parts of co-producing is getting out there and reaching the people you’d like to co-produce with.

West London Collaborative are not interested in tokenism when it comes to ‘hearing the voice of service users’. Their values are aligned tightly to the principles of gold standard co-production (they even swap ideas with Edgar Khan and his team in Washington.) and they are not afraid of challenging and speaking out. Their consultancy business model enables them to charge market rates so they remain independent and therefore committed to honesty and openness.

Their current work is primarily within the mental health sector although their business case is across both health and social care.  Among other things, they are working with frontline staff to improve patients’ experience of discharge from hospital and significantly reducing the number of incidents where patients are restrained and secluded. And they’ve added another reason why co-production should be our default approach to public sector – that as services improve and professionals’ relationships with the people they care for improves, they’re less likely to be ‘blamed’ for bad patient experience, and so staff morale and job satisfaction rises. Hooray!

The West London Collaborative is not afraid to admit that it makes a profit – it has to, if the business is to survive. Those profits are ploughed back into the community resilience work they are developing across their local area, including further co-production and asset based community development projects.

We will be featuring an interview over the next few weeks with Jane McGrath, WLC’s CEO and she’ll tell us more about their work and a new project they’re working on in South London – The Lambeth Doing Union.

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