Module 6

Co-Design Methods and Strategies

Inclusive strategies

The information and resources provided here are from the consumer and community involvement perspective. There are many different participatory research methods, one of which is co-design. Co-design is now a common term used to describe many activities conducted with consumers. Other terms such as co-creation, co-construct, co-learning and co-production etc also exist. The terminology stems from different disciplines and backgrounds and is defined differently across sectors and organisations.

While these terms have different meanings, a theme common to them all is the idea of engaging and collaborating with consumers and communities in processes for improvement and innovation where they are an end user or stakeholder. However, care needs to be taken that the popular ‘co-design’ term actually involves the meaningful engagement of consumers and the community.

On this page we provide some information about some participatory research methods below. Rather than attempt to define co-design and other similar terms, we note some features of the method and some useful resources.

Given the diversity in the terminology, we suggest that after reading some of the information below, for the purposes of your own projects or publications that involve consumers as collaborators or partners, that you select a term, define it, and use it consistently.

Adopting Co-Design

Underpinning most of the ‘co-‘ terms are:

  • Collaboration/ partnerships with consumers and community
  • Sharing power
  • Being inclusive
  • Active engagement of consumers for their lived experience expertise
  • Drawing on many perspectives – people with lived experience and engagement with other key stakeholders
  • Person-/community-centred
  • Develop, design or deliver a product or service.

These concepts and processes can be used in an overarching philosophy, study/project design or at a more focused level such as in a workshop. As a design approach, ‘co-design’ can and should be tailored to stakeholder needs.

Below are some resources to help you meaningfully engage consumers and the community in participatory projects.

A Guide to Build Co‐Design Capability
First published in 2019 in NSW by the Agency for Clinical Innovation

Designed to support local health districts and specialty health networks partner with people with lived experience of a health condition to make healthcare improvements using co-design processes. States co-design is a process and notes core capabilities needed for co-design. Contains guidance on co-design for executives, people with lived-experience of a health condition, researchers/ health professionals, co-design leader, service managers.

The Experience Based Co-Design Toolkit
First published in December 2017

Design to assist people working in the health sector. The toolkit contains the tools and approaches to bring consumers and health professionals together to co-design care that delivers improved patient experience.

Action catalogue is an online decision support tool

Designed to assist researchers, policy-makers and others wanting to conduct inclusive research. The tool assists people to find the best method for specific project needs and shows a range of participatory methods beyond just ‘codesign’.

Training toolkit for co-designing with people with disabilities

The toolkit goes through codesign principles and processes as a way of improving services with people with disability. Contains exercises and points for consideration, but not detailed information to conduct codesign.

Doing Research Inclusive guidelines: Guidelines for Co-Producing Research with People with Disability

The Disability Innovation Institute at UNSW Sydney produced the Guidelines that set out key benefits, principles and strategies that underpin an inclusive approach to co-producing research with people with disability.

Experience-based co-design toolkit

The Point of Care Foundation in the UK has produced this EBCD toolkit. This comprehensive resource includes short videos from staff and patients involved in experience-based co-design projects

  • Once you submit your email address, you have full access to 15 guides of co-design, many with videos.

Co-production: Putting principles into practice in mental health contexts
First published in 2018

Contextualised to mental health, this resource explores principles, power, challenges and case studies, as well as a list of further resources.

Co-production of knowledge

This BMJ collection editorial on co-production takes a broader conception of co-production as a process of power sharing and the need for a new funding model.

Patient Experience and Consumer Engagement: What is Experience-Based Co-Design?

Moll, S. et al 2020. Are you really doing ‘co-design’? Critical reflections when working with vulnerable.