It feels like an exciting time in the service design team. We’re coming to the end of our first significant piece of work. We’ve had time - and produced sufficient content - to meaningfully reflect on what we’ve learnt so far, and these observations are feeding into our preparation for the next phase of activity.
These things were the subject of this week’s show and tell. We were really encouraged by the huge increase in attendance and some really interesting and lively discussion.
We’ve learnt from previous sessions that trying to cram in any more than 2 presentations feels rushed. So this week we limited ourselves to 2 presentations. These covered the following:
- Our findings from our interviews with carers
- Challenges we’ve found while working on Adult Social Care content
Challenges we’ve found while working on Adult Social Care content
Through the course of our content redesign for priority areas within Adult Social Care we’ve analysed available data and insight, talked to and tested with service users and written content using Government Digital Service best practice guidance.
At the end of the current phase of work we’ve done a retrospective where we’ve looked back and identified things that went well, but perhaps more importantly the things that didn’t. It’s a really important step for us to stop and reflect on our work and to learn from our experience. That way we’re regularly assessing our performance and practices and making improvements.
Some of our key observations have been around:
Getting content reviewed and signed off
This has been a really time consuming process. We’re aware that had we improved our engagement with services at the start, it would have been a much smoother process. Going forwards we’re going to explain how we work and explain how much time and commitment we need from staff. We’re currently working on a document that will help us do this
It’s really important that we talk about things in a consistent and meaningful way. We’ve seen services refer to themselves in multiple ways using language that we understand but that users don’t. This is going to take time to address so we need to keep flagging it
We’ve found lots of examples of content for services that Essex County Council don’t actually provide. With this in mind, we’re putting together a clear set of criteria so that we can access content requests going forwards. If we - Essex County Council - don’t do it we should signpost to the organisation that does. If we can’t identify a user need for it at all then we don’t work on it.
Our findings from interviews with carers
As part of the Adult Social Care content work we’ve been working on redesigning the ‘Looking after someone’ section of the Living Well website.
A key activity has been to talk to carers groups and members of the Essex County Council Carers Forum to gain insight into their experience. As with all the work we do, we need to understand our service users lived experience, the language that they use and where and how they find out about things.
Carers face lots of challenges in their daily lives and it’s really important that we provide information that is quick to find, easy to understand and crucially supports their needs.
There are issues with how the Carer’s Assessment is perceived. Something which is meant to help the carer is viewed as something potentially punitive. In part, thanks to the language. Things people said:
“I hate the term ‘carers assessment’”
“Carers don’t want to be assessed, they are just looking for support”
Peer information sharing
Important information sources seemed to be trusted peers who are also carers. One carer said “we all stumble across things” which seemed to be true of other people’s experience
Carers have an administrative burden in their role that adds additional stress. Prescriptions seemed to be a particular issue where due dates for collection weren’t right and working carers were having to take time off work to make wasted journeys.
Our findings need to be explored in more detail with a larger group, but they do give us an important steer on the language that we’re using and considerations for broader service design.
The good turnout at the show and tell helped toward a lively discussion. Issues covered included the degree to which residents were willing to participate in user research (the answer: generally very helpful, if occasionally wary of council representatives); different ways of propagating best practice across the organisation; and the danger of ‘digital’ becoming a buzzword. Thanks for coming everyone!
The bigger picture
All of the work that we’ve done to date helps to shape and inform our approach and ways of working for the overarching Essex County Council website project. We’ve identified common challenges and are adapting our approach in response.
Get in touch
These sessions are an opportunity to learn about the work of the service design team, and to make connections between the work we are doing and your work. They are open to all, so drop us an email if you’d like to be added to the invitation list and feel free to forward to colleagues.