Flexibility and co-production

Final Report – Co-Production – 2016-01-20

Co-production involves learning and flexibility. This is important for the responsiveness necessary in research as mutual understandings evolve. Traditional research approaches conceive of flexibility in research as an indicator of a poorly focused study. The tide may, however, be turning. Please read the report by N8/ESRC Research Programme, which suggests that it may be within fluid situations of co-production that the most important new insights emerge.

Pamela Fisher


Research Team

Pamela FisherPamela Fisher (principal investigator) is a sociologist at the University of Leeds. Her work focuses on critical understandings of ‘resilience’ and resistance amongst communities marginalised communities.  Pamela’s recent work has critically interrogated professional practices and values which reinforce marginalisation and on alternative approaches which contribute to professionalism based on power-sharing. Pamela sees professional practices as inherently political activities which are informed by and which inform understandings of citizenship.

Co-researchers are:

John Baker was appointed to Chair of Mental Health Nursing in 2015. John’s research focuses on developing complex clinical and psychological interventions in mental health settings.

Albert DzurAlbert Dzur, Professor of Political Science at Bowling Green State University, who has developed the concept of democratic professionalism. His work focuses on both the barriers to lay citizen participation in professional domains as well as the resources available for sharing power in typically hierarchical institutions. https://www.bgsu.edu/arts-and-sciences/political-science/faculty-and-staff-directory/Albert-Dzur.html

Hannah Howe is Director of Volition, the network for the mental health third sector in Leeds. Prior to working at Volition, Hannah worked for a Leeds-based metal health and wellbeing charity leading a service for people with long term conditions which enabled people to cope, manage and live positively with LTC’s as well as managing a 1:1 outreach service for people with complex mental health needs, again empowering and supporting people to live independently.

Norman McClelland, Head of Collaborative Research between Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Leeds.

Elaine McNichol, academic lead for service users and carers in The School of Healthcare at the University of Leeds. Elaine’s current research and practice is grounded in Patient and Public Involvement, from engagement through to co-production within a context of knowledge transfer.

John Playe

John Playle is Professor of Mental Health Nursing & Dean of the School of Human and Health Sciences at the University of Huddersfield.  He has a long standing interest in working in partnership with service users and carers particularly in relation to their essential engagement in shaping and delivering pre and post qualifying education for mental health professionals.

M WebberMartin Webber is Professor of Social Work at the University of York where he leads the International Centre for Mental Health Social Research. His research focuses on the development and evaluation of social interventions alongside people with mental health problems. He is also the academic lead for Think Ahead, a fast-track training programme for mental health social workers.

Seminar 2 Format

Please note the second seminar is now full. Should you wish to be put on the waiting list for this seminar please email esrc-co@leeds.ac.uk .

9.30 Registration (with tea and coffee available)
10.00 Bill Fulford, welcome and introduction to the collaboration between the Centre for Values Based Practice, St Catherine’s College and the Leeds University initiative on co-production. Pamela Fisher, summary of key points arising from seminar one. Housekeeping and scene setting

10.30 Presentation by Sarah Carr and Peter Ryan of the University of Middlesex. Sarah is an Associate Professor of Mental Health Research, Middlesex University and an independent mental health and social care consultant and researcher. Sarah is Co-Chair of the National Survivor User Network (NSUN) and uses her lived experience of mental distress and service use in all her work. Peter Ryan is an expert in mental health. He is currently establishing a research centre for co-production in collaboration with Sarah Carr at the University of Middlesex.

11.15 Café style discussion based on presentation
11.45 Facilitated feedback, questions and discussion of arising themes
12.15 LUNCH
1.00 Presentation by Ruth Allen followed by questions and comments

Ruth is Director of Social Work for South West London and St George’s Mental Health Trust and a Research Fellow at St George’s University of London. She is Chair of the national Social Care Strategic Network for mental health which promotes effective social work leadership in mental health and former Chair of the Mental Health Faculty of the College of Social Work.

Presentation by Philip Houghton, Gemma Stacey and James Shutt
Philip Houghton is a clinical psychologist with a particular interest in the impact of power on individuals and systems, both within and outside of the mental health systems.
Gemma is the Academic lead of the Critical Values Based Management Centre, University of Nottingham. Philip is a Clinical Psychologist and Practice Leader of the Critical Values Based Management Centre, Nottinghamshire Healthcare Foundation Trust.
James Shutt is the service manager of POhWER. Coming from an advocacy and voluntary sector perspective, he is interested in the lived experiences of people with mental disabilities.

2.00 Identification and discussion of key points arising from presentations and discussions

2.30 Round table discussion introduced by presentation (10 mins) by Ms Keeble.  Ms Keeble uses mental health services. She is a founder member of the ‘Bristol co-production group’ which has grown from its original brief to produce many collaborations, including the partnership teaching of mental health nursing students

3.30 Summary of key points and emerging focus for research applications and outputs

4.00 Additional Networking opportunity

First Seminar Recap

Many thanks to all of you who participated in the first seminar of the ESRC series Re-imagining professionalism in mental health: towards co-production on 5 January 2016 at the University of Leeds.

Thanks so much for the lively and interesting discussions which generated so many ideas and raised such intriguing questions.  I’d initially been worried that the conversation might dry up prematurely – but there was definitely no danger of that!

I think we all realise all too well that establishing co-production (as authentic power-sharing) in mental health will not be achieved over night. The challenges are considerable but, although daunted, I’m feeling enthusiastic and determined.  Last week’s conversations definitely energised my commitment.

Here are just a few observations from the first seminar.

Albert Dzur started off the day’s proceedings with an exposition of his theory of Democratic Professionalism (DP). DP requires a fundamental shift in power relations between ‘service users’ and ‘service providers’, and may be allied to a participatory (rather than representative) form of citizenship. Experts by experience, for example, are demanding that professional practices in mental health be opened up to democratic deliberation.

In their talks both Albert and Michael Guthrie emphasised the importance of role models, but a key challenge seems to be how to embed democratic professionalism into organisational cultures. After Michael’s and Annie Dransfield’s talks, we started to ask some interesting questions about what should constitute professionalism and whether the definition should be expanded to include service users, informal carers and peer support workers. On the other hand, it was mooted that we should perhaps dispense with the term ‘professional’ and talk instead about appropriate behaviour and judgement.

At one point there was an interesting discussion on whether co-production is aided or hindered by regulation. If it is regulated from above, does it then cease to be about democratic power-sharing? On the other hand, how can it become established without being endorsed by policy-makers and managers? I’m sure this is a point we’ll return to…

Scott Bell led a workshop which again generated lots of interest. He emphasised that co-productive relationships should be about mutuality and reciprocity. Scott pointed out that this is not reflected in the term ‘user-led’ which arguably places all the responsibility for recovery on the service user. Others pointed out that terms such as ‘service user’ need re-thinking as they perpetuate the arguably oppressive binary between service user and service provider. A model of ‘recovery together’ was suggested as an alternative.

Pamela Fisher

Job Opportunity in London for Open Dialogue UK

From the Open Dialogue UK website:

We are now looking for more administrative support, primarily to help us meet our objective of opening a centre in London for training and practice in 2016. This is an exciting opportunity to be a part of the development of a centre which will in time offer training and therapeutic work in a variety of approaches, including Open Dialogue, Hearing Voices, psychotherapeutic work for people experiencing psychosis, and Intentional Peer Support. As well as this we will be running events in the evenings at the centre including debates/dialogues, film screenings, performance arts, and other creative/social gatherings, related to therapeutic practice, but also wider social/political issues. Our hope is that the centre will also provide vocational opportunities on a voluntary and paid basis for people with lived experience of mental distress/extreme states who are interested in contributing to the development of the centre and learning new skills, and we welcome interest from people with such experience for this administrative role.

Initially we are looking to involve someone with administrative skills on a temporary basis, with a view to this becoming a permanent position once the centre opens. There is flexibility in terms of the basis on which the work would initially be undertaken (employed, self-employed) as well as the hours involved (full-time/part-time). Amongst the administrative skills required are the ability to use Microsoft Office, edit content on our (WordPress website), monitor email accounts, research issues related to the development of the centre, etc. Training will be given where necessary.

If you are interested in this administrative role, please complete the form on this page on our website by 14th February 2016, or contact us if you have any questions.”


Open Dialogue UK 2016 Conference – London – 2nd February

Not long until this event in London. We hope to see some of  you there.

Our 2016 conference brings together many of the leading developers of Open Dialogue internationally. Keynote speakers will be Jaakko Seikkula, one of the founders of the approach and Volkmar Aderhold and Petra Hohn, who have been leading the development of the approach in Germany and also in the Parachute Project in NYC. We are delighted to also welcome three key members of the Parachute Project team from New York, as well as members of the Peer supported Open Dialogue project in the UK.  As well as addressing the key themes of openness and democracy, the conference will provide a unique opportunity to get an overview of the current state of development relating to Open Dialogue nationally and internationally. There will also be a panel of leading clinicians/experts from a variety of backgrounds in the UK who will be reflecting on the presentations: James Davies, Peter Kinderman, Anne Cooke, Sarah Carr, Sami Timimi, Jacqui Dillon, Julie Repper and Rachel Waddingham.

We are now delighted to confirm that there will be three additional presentations from those developing the Open Dialogue approach internationally. Iseult Twamley, who is leading a project in West Cork, Ireland, Rafaella Pocobello, one of the co-ordinators of a project covering 8 districts in Italy, and Amy Morgan, from Advocates in Massachusetts, USA, will all be giving brief presentations on how they are developing Open Dialogue within their service.

We have a range of price points for these seminars, in the hope that everyone who wishes to attend will be able to, including group discounts:

  • Organisation Rate: £125
  • Organisation Group Rate: £112.50
  • Independent Practitioner Rate: £85
  • Student/Carer Rate: £35
  • Service User/Benefits Rate: £25

Group rates for 5 or more people

For further details of the conference and to book places please visit our website by clicking here.