I signed up for the Design Hops course not really knowing what to expect. I’d read the course brief and it sounded like something that would be beneficial for us as an organisation.

In the first session we looked at identifying our key issue, and our knowledge and assumptions around this issue. This was helpful, as I began to see just how many assumptions were being made. It quickly became clear why we were encountering issues. The concept of constant iteration was then introduced. The idea is that you start with a simple solution that solves the problem at a basic level and build from there.

The next phase was user research, and this presented us with quite a challenge. We knew getting user feedback on the issue was going to be difficult, as our issue was poor engagement in our digital services. The target group could not be sent a survey by email, and posting 1,500 surveys is expensive! Fortunately, Ab and Maddie (facilitators), pointed me to other organisations who had faced similar issues. This proved very helpful, as speaking with them gave me ideas of ways around this. We opted to build a digital services survey into our triage process. When our reception team answer a call, where appropriate, they now ask for the caller’s views on digital services.

Once we had some basic research, we did an exercise called Rapid 8’s to come up with some solutions. I only managed to come up with four instead of eight possible solutions, and they weren’t great! I started to think that an app might be the way forward, but I wasn’t sure how the concept of constant iteration fit with this.

In the final session we were trying to refine our ideas for the first stage of the solution. Something was still not sitting right with me about the app idea, and it just felt like I was missing something.

When we were talking through our potential solutions, I had the lightbulb moment that I had been looking for!

The issue was people not engaging with digital services. There was no use in developing a digital solution, if many of the people we support don’t have access to or are not confident in using digital technologies. We need to be putting our efforts into providing Carers with the skills that they need to become confident digital citizens.

As a result, we are working on adding a digital skills assessment into our registration process. This will mean we can identify if someone needs that support right from day one. Initially this will be linking with partner organisations, but down the line we hope to be able to offer this in-house by training staff and volunteers to be Digital Champions.

I now have a sticker on my monitor that says ‘Constant Iteration’. It reminds me each day that we don’t need the biggest and fanciest solution straightaway. What is important is meeting the needs of the service user in the simplest way for that particular moment in time.