Experts By Experience: Co-producing improved resources for neurodivergent people #CoProWeek

Our third and final highlight for National Co-production Week is an ambitious plan to make the innovative NHS Dimensions tool – a free, self-care resource for adults, children and young people – work better for neurodivergent people looking for health and wellbeing support.

Sonia and Samantha are experts by experience (EbEs) working together on improving the Dimensions tool.

Here, Sonia fills in some of the background to the project, skills she has developed personally through being involved and her five key ingredients for co-production.

Hi Sonia, thanks for talking with us.
Can you give us a summary of the Dimensions work?

I have been working with the Dimensions team to create an ambitious plan to get feedback on the experience of using the Dimensions Tool across a range of stakeholders. The aim is to ensure that it is a live tool – evolving, fit for purpose, meets the needs of neurodivergent communities and their families, and the language, content and accessibility is spot on.

Dimensions is an innovative and pragmatic tool and the first of its kind across the NHS, paving the way forward.

What has it been like working in a team of EbEs and EbTs (Experts By Training)?

The EbEs that I have met are incredibly talented. Their vast lived knowledge and experience is a privilege to work with and to learn from. The EbTs are dedicated and determined.

I feel humbled to be able to work with such a committed and capable team of people, who are passionate about changing the experience of neurodivergent people and their families and improving the quality of their lives. I also feel a massive responsiblity to be able to deliver on my work and ensure that I contribute effectively for this cause.

A quote in a speech bubble on a white background with grey text.
We asked EbEs what the impact of co-production is. One EbE told us, “Co-production should ensure services operate in a way that makes neurodivergent people feel welcome, valued and respected.”
What skills have you developed throughout this work?

I have learnt skills around creative, digital and innovative methods to engage with a diverse audience. I have learned to practice active listening and working together to understand and support each other to find a common goal.

What are some of the highlights of this work?

Taking the time to really understand the current position. It has taken time to ensure the whole team has an understanding of the history of Dimensions and where it has come from. To really thrash out the conversations about where we each feel Dimensions is focused and then to finally come to a shared and common understaning of how and what needs to happen next, both in the short and long term.

We have created a terms of engagement, working together agreement and a mapping exercise of upcoming community engagement events and specific workshops to obtain the needed feedback.

What are some of the aspirations for the future of this work?

The action plan is deliberately ambitious. It feeds into the wider Autism Strategy as well as across other priority workstreams. This means it has a high impact on future objectives.

The Dimensions team realise that there are limitations on what can be achieved both short and long term in isolation. So the longer term ambitions requires buy-in from commissioning teams and others where the decision making is outside the capacity of the Dimensions remit.

What are the five key ingredients for co-production?
  1. Listening
  2. Being patient
  3. Taking a step back and allowing space for others to contribute and bring their energy and experience to the table
  4. Being open to new and different ways of being and doing
  5. Staying positive and optimistic while having a common vision for the future.
What’s your one key message about co-production?

Excellent structure for joint working which ensures mutual respect, understanding, growth, committment and validation.

What next?

To learn more about our #ShiftingPower strand of action in Coventry and Warwickshire, click here.

Meet James, co-chair of the Learning Disability Partnership Board and another Grapevine EbE here.

Read Kat’s blog for #CoProWeek about her work with the NHS to recognise and reduce barriers autistic people face when trying to access mental health services here.

A co-produced “one-stop shop” booklet for services and support for neurodivergent people and their families in Coventry and Warwickshire can be downloaded here (another Grapevine EbE Co-production Service project).

Four people, all white, sit on an orange sofa for a team photo. Three are women and one is man.
The team, from left to right: Andrew, Suzie, Sophie and Remie.

Our project team has developed a co-production resource hub with a range of guidance on training, accessibility, useful co-production resources and latest news. Contact the team at to talk about the resource hub or anything else related to co-production in Coventry and Warwickshire.

Check out our Facebook and Instragram pages for quotes from our EbEs on what co-production means to them.

This project is commissioned by Warwickshire County Council, Coventry City Council and Coventry and Warwickshire Integrated Care Board.