Co-design in practice is guided by a set of six foundation principles which form the ABC of co-design. It is important that everyone involved, and health practitioners in particular, understands the foundation principles and are committed to them.
Foundation Principle #6 – F is for Framework for Governance
A governance framework creates a structure within which the co-design process is formalised. A governance framework is an important and necessary aspect of co-design to ensure that decisions are made in the best possible manner, and that implementation of strategies is managed effectively.
Everyone involved in the co-design process, including consumers, carers and professionals, should contribute to decisions regarding what the governance framework will look like (e.g. boards, committees, reports, reviews). In some cases an individual may represent a larger group in these structures (e.g. as a carer representative).
A governance framework defines the scope of the co-design process, i.e. what decisions the co-design partnership is empowered to make and act on. It provides accountability and mechanisms for feedback and evaluation, as well as setting parameters for what information is shared, how it is shared, and with whom.
The aims, roles and responsibilities of all partners under the governance framework need to be clear and defined. Leadership structures must be understood and accepted, whilst processes and procedures must reflect the inclusive and respectful nature of co-design.
The primary objective must be clear to all: namely, the improvement of health service delivery for individuals with complex health needs, their carers and families.
A mutually agreed governance framework reinforces the place of the individual with complex needs, and their families and carers at the centre of the process. It aligns the multiple interests of the various participants (from their different backgrounds and sectors), ensuring effective cooperation and increased quality of care.
In this way, consumer and health practitioner perspectives are built into the management and delivery of health services as an integral feature of their operation.