I started writing weeknotes soon after I joined NHS Digital as head of design in June 2017. I find it a good discipline for me to reflect on my week, and to make sure I’m making progress against my own and my team’s objectives. Because groups of colleagues congregate in different virtual places, I settled on posting them simultaneously to our #design channel on Slack and an internal “blog” on Sharepoint. As an experiment, I’m posting a lightly redacted version here too. Views: my own. Publication status: experimental.
Straight back from the bank holiday weekend into NHS.UK programme show and tell day. In addition to the team’s showing their work, Marc, our head of products, gave an update from the senior leadership team. We plan to make these a regular fixture at fortnightly show and tells in future.
I joined a presentation by Helen Petrie of York University, who specialises is research with users with access needs, including older people. It gave me lots to think about. Thanks to Rochelle, Tanja, and the other user researchers for making it happen.
Dean, the lead designer on the NHS website, shared the team’s stance on accessibility with our NHS Digital Ability Network, which supports staff with disabilities, long-term conditions and carers, and got some encouraging feedback.
I also had a call with Victoria from m-Habitat and Lenny from the Helix Centre about a session we’re doing together as part of HIMSS e-Health Week.
A day in London. I had a chat with Louise, the service designer on apps & wearables. I met a service designer working in a well-respected design agency, who was interested in how we work as an in-house team.
A call with Amanda, our head of profession.
Then I headed over to the Government Digital Service event, Sprint 18, where I managed to persuade Andrew to sign my copy of the public.digital/book. My takeaways from the event:
- Cross-government collaboration works. For example, to make their emergency travel documents service, Foreign Office reused appointment booking from Ministry of Justice, GOV.UK Pay from Government Digital Service, and photo upload from Home Office.
- Making things simple is hard work (but worth it in the end). It took new legislation, a multidisciplinary team, with policy and digital, from two departments, co-located, to make it possible for you to ‘check your state pension’.
- The Digital Service Standard is no more! It has been rename the Government Service Standard to reflect the fact that it’s not just digital, but a standard for the whole of government.
- There’s lots we can do to raise awareness and build capability around accessibility: “Interest can’t be the only motivating factor, you need some goals and management support.” – James Buller, one of two access needs leads at the Home Office.
I missed the presentation of advances on the GOV.UK platform to head over to Parliament for an NHS Digital event on diversity inclusion. Nicola, who leads on Widening Digital Participation talked about her programme’s work with partners Good Things Foundation. There were also great talks by Stan, experts by experience lead at homelessness charity Pathway, and Jonny, of social enterprise charity Turning Point.
Catching up with emails, and following up on the process to bring a designer on board, having made them an offer some time ago. I followed up on the accessibility and inclusion work, including clarifying how we’re approaching the GDS consultation on accessibility of public websites and apps.
For the last couple of hours, I looked again at one of the job descriptions we’re putting through the Agenda for Change grading process. It’s a valuable exercise because it forces us to describe the work of a designer against a set of generic competencies that have to be broad enough to fit the massive range of job roles in the NHS. If we get it right, designers will get recognition for their key roles in:
- Policy and Service Improvement – our job is to design new services, or substantially improve existing ones, on nationally important areas of health policy and performance.
- Research and Development – we spend much of our time exploring and learning in the discovery, alpha and beta phases of service development.
- Equality, Diversity and Rights – the designer is the primary advocate in the multidisciplinary team for the principles of inclusive design.
I wrote a blog post reflecting on the Leeds Digital Festival event I was part of a couple of weeks ago: https://blog.mattedgar.com/2018/05/13/electric-woks-or-eating-together-time-for-human-centred-designers-to-care-about-the-community/ No more electric woks!