Ever been at a work’s do and introduced a colleague by listing off their current ailments?
“Hi, Steve, this is Bob. He has a stammer. Bob, meet Steve, he’s can’t sit for long because of his massive piles.”

Of course not.

I don’t introduce myself as,

“Hi, I’m Rachel. I broke my wrist last year, ruptured my EPL and needed surgery. I have asthma controlled well with inhalers and eczema which needs constant management.”

So, why does it cross my mind that when I’m asked to introduce my son that I list all of his disabilities?

“This is S. He has cerebral palsy, is registered blind and fed through a PEG tube in his stomach.”

Why does that trip off my tongue so easily?

I’m not ashamed of those things they are all part and parcel of who he is, along with his brown hair and blue eyes. But they are not the most important or exciting thing about him. He has so many more assets that are worth talking about.

“This is S. He loves swimming and watching Pointless on TV. He enjoys singing at full volume (preferably in the shower) and sometimes laughs so hard that he can barely breathe.”

Why do I mention this observation?

Because I think we can do better but it takes a change in mindset. It requires us to deliberately spot the assets – strengths and beauty – in everyone (even when they aren’t like us – especially when they aren’t).

Asset based thinking is a founding principle of co-production.

One way co-production improves practice and changes lives is through asset based thinking. Looking at people we are working with (not for or at) and focusing on their talents, strengths and qualities.

Co-production with relatives and carers might mean reframing how we view families.

Instead of that angry parent; passionate and caring.
Instead of the pandering parent; concerned and attentive.
Instead of the non-engaged parent; busy and complex.

I am utterly convinced that if the multitude of practitioners who work with families across Health, Education and Social tried to #Bridgethegap with effective communication and co-production, all our lives could be better. Not just the lives of the families but the working life and perspective of professionals too.

Book yourself on a Born at the Right Time ‘Communication and Co-production with relatives and carers in a changing world’ course on Eventbrite. Reflect and learn how your team or department can maximise the changes brought about by covid-19 with bespoke Born at the Right Time training by emailing admin@bornattherighttime.com.