NHS: Human-centred design for critical services

We are working with the NHS on a series of projects to adapt and innovate health services in response to COVID.

Initially we’re running research and concepting work for Bristol, North Somerset & South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group and North Somerset Council to help them support parents and carers with children with special educational needs.

Bringing to life human centred design

“We were looking for a service design partner to bring to life human centred design, upskill our internal team and to help us understand how we can apply that in the wider health and care system,” says Ben Carlson-Davies, Insights and Engagement Manager, Bristol, North Somerset & South Gloucestershire CCG.

“Mace & Menter stood out as the strongest candidate with lots of experience in working with public sector teams. They also took the time to really understand the business needs and were very open and transparent about what the process would involve.”

Ben’s team have a wealth of market research and insights experience, but were finding it difficult to translate research into meaningful action. Ben was keen to use service design tools and techniques to bridge the gap.

As a discipline, service design straddles research and design – we uncover needs, gaps and problems worth solving, but also explore how a service should change based on that evidence.

Uncovering emotive stories

Our initial project working with parents and carers of children with special educational needs has uncovered powerful and emotive stories around people’s experiences of interacting with the service.

“Mace & Menter’s analysis and reporting articulated and summarised our existing concerns very clearly – it is better than anything we’ve seen before, and has really helped highlight the areas we’d like to improve,” says Ben.

He adds: “We’re often so focused on providing a service that meets all statutory requirements, that we may not always think about the best way to deliver that information to the user, which ultimately is what will help them get what they need.”

Service concepts show what needs to change

Based on opportunities uncovered by the research we are visualising high-level concepts around the way the service might work in future. Storyboards and sketches are powerful ways of showing recommended changes to a service and quickly move the conversation from “what should we do?” to “how can we make this happen?”.

Ben adds: “Part of the next steps is to reflect on what we’ve learned so that we can go on to design more effective services across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.”

Our work is feeding into a business case for improvements to the service and will help parents and carers in North Somerset find and access the information and services they need to give their children the best support available.