The term co-design is being used more frequently, but what does co-design mean and how does it work? Well, that depends on the context. It could mean a design group working together. Nothing difficult about that concept. Or it could mean involving end users in the design process. This is where it gets more tricky and more questions arise.
At what point do you involve users? Which users do you involve? Will the users have the required knowledge and experience to contribute constructively? Will designers have the skills to be inclusive and listen to users? Participatory action research incorporates both designer and user learning. But these projects are necessarily long and usually have research funding attached. However, they usually produce knowledge and results useful in other settings.
A related concept is co-design in quality improvement, for example, in a hospital setting. Both staff and patients have a role to play in advancing quality improvement. Differing levels of understanding between staff and patients can lead to tokenism. So how can we equalise knowledge so that everyone’s contribution is constructive?
A research team in a Brisbane hospital grappled with this issue. Their research report is written in academic language and not easy to read. Nevertheless, they conclude that effective patient-staff partnerships require specific skills. Briefly, it means adapting to change, and generating new knowledge for continuous improvement.
The researches developed a framework that includes ten capabilities under three key headings.
- Personal attributes:
- Dedicated to improving healthcare
- Self-aware and reflective
- Confident and flexible
2. Relationships and communication attributes:
- Working and learning as a team
- Collaborating and communicating
- Advocating for everyone
- Organisational systems & policy
- Patient and public involvement best practice
- Quality improvement principles.
These nine points are connected with the overarching theme of sharing power and leadership.
Title of the article is, “Co-produced capability framework for successful patient and staff partnerships in healthcare quality improvement: results of a scoping review”.