I’ve learnt not to make assumptions about service users, and that the best services are personalised. These points sound like common sense, but when you’re trying to design and implement services, it is far too easy to jump to solutions based on your own knowledge, experience and prejudices. To assume you know the answers.
COVID-19 has clearly highlighted that people and the situations in which they live are complex. When services are personalised they focus on what matters to people. You can’t do this without taking the time to understand the individuals involved. Two really simple examples I heard recently highlighted this perfectly:
Care home staff couldn’t get a dementia patient to eat. The patient had always had dinner out between 8-10pm and would not eat between the standard times of 5-7pm. Once this was known, this issue, and a multitude of others connected to it, was solved
Treatment for wounds – a patient’s wound needed to be dressed four times a day, but for that patient being able to go for a daily walk was more important. Once the timetable of care was adapted to fit with this, the patient was both happier and safer.
By putting users at the centre, we are forced to take a holistic, not service-driven, view. People have little interest in where funding originates from or who a support worker is employed by, so long as they are getting the support they need when they need it. Everything else is for the system to sort out in the background, which we need to get much better at.
Digital and data are key enablers here, which I hope the system will get better at exploiting in future. Whether that’s using AI to assist individuals in making informed decisions, or digital records that can be shared across services, so that an individual experiences the joined-up care and support that really meets their needs.
To learn more about our work on service design contact Laura firstname.lastname@example.org.
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