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Servic design is not a linear process


Hoolekandeteenused (HKT) offers live-in welfare services to people with intellectual disabilities or mental health disorders, who are unable to live completely on their own.
Homes are in residential neighbourhoods and are part of a process of de-institutionalisation of mental care, re-integrating special needs people into society.

HKT wanted to improve the quality of services it offered to its clients (residents in the care home). The presumption was that staff needed better processes and methods to do so. Our brief was to help develop these processes and methods.

Over the course of six months we conducted interviews and workshops with different care home staff and, where possible, with clients. We followed this up with shadowing of staff in the care homes. The research highlighted the organisation’s challenges that accompanied de-institutionalisation: the central organisation administering the various care homes, by following the various applicable rules and regulations, was creating an administrative workload that was slowly over-whelming the care staff in the homes.

The results of our research showed that staff were not lacking the skills or tools for working with clients. What they lacked was the time to do so. We uncovered a work process that was uncoordinated and ad-hoc. Daily tasks, both admin and household chores, had developed over time, were often dictated centrally and required immediate attention. The work process for staff had never been looked on as a whole. Because of the disjointed nature of these tasks, staff were left with very little time for meaningful interaction with clients.

Consequently, the service that was designed was the daily working process. Administrative tasks were assigned a defined time-slot and all scattered daily tasks were gathered there. This made the daily work-flow for staff much more efficient, freeing up 2-3 hours per day, for them to work with clients.

For the HKT, the service design process was unnerving, when it seemed that their stated goal could not be solved. No one knew what the outcome of the service design would be. It was just very important, that it would improve the lives of the clients. Equally important was the caveat, that the solution couldn’t add costs to the operation or the workload of staff. Re-designing the administrative tasks ticked all the boxes of the brief, but did so in an unexpected way.

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