Dr Michelle Hacking, founder and clinical psychologist at Kingfisher Psychology, recently sent us this writeup with her thoughts about co-production and the value of lived experience. We are pleased to have such a staunch supporter of the forum and we hope that this encourages further partnerships between the private sector, parents/carers, and young people.

I feel privileged to have worked in partnership with the Manchester Parent Carer Forum since 2020 when I was creating some “Back to School” packs for autistic children and young people returning to school after lockdown. Since then, I have recommended them to every parent and carer across Greater Manchester!
I strongly believe in co-production, and I often co-facilitate training alongside autistic young people, most recently for the doctoral trainees at The University of Manchester. Last year I was asked to deliver some training for a staff team who were starting to work with autistic children, and those with learning disabilities. This was an exciting opportunity to create something from scratch and for this to be co-produced. The Manchester Parent Carer Forum were happy to help, and we held a focus group with several parents/carers to gather together some ideas and create a meaningful training package.
The image shows Dr. Michelle Hacking from Kingfisher Psychology sat down writing on a notebook.

Dr. Michelle Hacking – Photo Credit: Kingfisher Psychology

There was an abundance of ideas, and our discussions sparked some interesting conversations and insights. One of the key themes to come out of the session was around person-centred care, and ensuring that the individual child is at the heart of absolutely everything we do! The training course that we created gave lots of information about how this could be achieved within organisations, such as focusing on the child’s communication, what they love doing, and what are the important things that everyone MUST know about each child in order to give outstanding care.

The focus group allowed me to hear some fantastic ideas and to share in the meaningful everyday moments that are so important to every single child, young person and family.
Co-production is vital for creating opportunities for learning, building spaces and environments which meet the needs of the population that you are serving, and ensuring that your organisation is providing the best care possible. I would encourage other businesses to get involved in co-production, and to ensure that service users, parents, carers and young people are well compensated for their time and valuable input. This focus group approach to sharing ideas was lots of fun, and incredibly productive. I met some amazing people, and built connections with people who are passionate about the same things as me!