SERVICE DESIGN AT TYNESIDE MIND, By Robert Young and Helene Turner, Northumbria University and Tyneside Mind
Service Design at Tyneside MindUsing design to rethink mental healthHEI: Northumbria UniversityCourse(s)/Research body: Doctoral Design ResearchProgrammeMain Partners: Tyneside MindFunders: Northumbria University PhD StudentshipPlace: Gateshead and North Tyneside, North East EnglandKeywords: Third Sector, Public Services, Mental HealthCare, Design Intervention
Context:Tyneside Mind is a local mental health and wellbeing charity thatoffers services to support those affected by mental health living inTyneside. They are part of the national mental health charity,Mind. The significant reductions in public sector spending, as wellas reductions in the funding available from trusts and foundations,has affected the way that Tyneside Mind (TM) operates and theservices they are able to provide. Despite this considerablereduction in capacity, they are trying to cope with a sizeableincrease in service demand that is directly linked to the financialcrisis. As well as addressing the challenges posed by the difficultfinancial climate, TM also need to respond to new policy driversand offer innovative, person-centred services.Challenge:What mental health and wellbeing services should be provided inNorth Tyneside? How should they be offered and delivered?
Project response:The designer/researcher worked with actors in TM to support themto use a service design approach to develop a suite of services fora new geographical area. The designer guided staff in user-centered research to uncover the needs and demands of clients inthis new area, as well as gaining an understanding of the valueand challenges in TM’s current wellbeing service provision.Using creative tools, the designer was able to engage directly withservice users to enable them to contribute thoughts and opinionswithout them feeling threatened by the idea of change. Theseinsights contributed directly to the development of the newwellbeing service, as well as informing improvements to currentservice offers across the region, and feeding into the strategicdirection for the organisation.
Actor profile: Tyneside MindMotivations for involvement: TM had received a short-termcontract from North Tyneside Council to deliver mental healthservices. TM had no experience working in this region, andwanted to develop a new service appropriate to this context, andsecure a longer contract. TM looked to Northumbria University toprovide both capacity and process to help them achieve this.Contribution to the project: TM committed the time of allstakeholders from front-line staff to board members to engage inthe process. They also contributed the resources necessary toundertake the service development work.Project outcomes: “The designer was a ‘friendly critic’challenging attitudes that had become entrenched in theorganisation as well as consolidating the more positive aspects ofour approach to developing services. The legacy, in terms of itssubtle shift in organisational culture, has made us a strongercharity and better equipped to face new challenges.” StuartDexter, Chief Executive, Tyneside Mind
Actor profile: Northumbria UniversityMotivations for involvement: This project acted as a case studyin an ongoing doctoral study into the value of a design for serviceapproach to help voluntary organisations develop public services.Contribution to the project: The doctoral candidate (also thedesigner/researcher) was situated within the organisation full timefor an 8 week period to introduce, support the use of, and embed(as much as possible) a service design approach.Project outcomes: “The permission afforded to me by all at TMmeant that I was able to effectively support their team to develop anew service, based on robust user research and serviceprototyping. Their ongoing reflection on the value of the approachhas provided me with vital detail for my PhD study.” LauraWarwick, Doctoral Candidate
Process:The designer used an iterative and inclusive process, co-designingas much of the service as possible with as many stakeholders aspossible.The designer worked withstaff to design aquestionnaire, set ofpersonas and researchevent to engage withexisting and potentialservice users.The designer helped staffto collate all findings andsee patterns in the data.The team then highlightedthe opportunities to focuson going forward.The designer helped theteam to generate ideas,and develop their ideasthrough visuals andprototypes to result in onestrong proposal.The designer supportedstaff to test prototypes andadjust the new service so itwas appropriate for a smallpilot with their currentclients.
Tools and Methods:Individually designed tools were used in the research anddevelopment stages including; customer journey mapping; designworkshops; personas. Particular care was taken to ensure researchtools were suitable for those with varying mental health needs, andthat tasks would not alarm or confuse any service users. A simplevisualisation style was used throughout the project to helpcommunicate complex ideas and systems. Paper prototyping anddesktop walkthroughs were used to understand how services wouldwork. The service was then piloted before rolling out across theregion. A service design toolkit was created for the organisation toprovide them with a resource to draw on and inspire them in thefuture.
Design(ers) role:The service design approach provided a rigorous process for TM tounderstand client experiences, translate research into insights,generate ideas to address these issues, and test elements of theseideas. The designer/researcher acted as a facilitator throughout theproject, providing the guidance, support and encouragement for staff,service users and volunteers to use service design tools to co-designaspects of the new service and to improve internal processes. Thedesigner helped to challenge established perceptions about mentalhealth services and encourage stakeholders to think differently abouthow their services could look and feel. Most importantly, thedesigner/researcher challenged the belief that mental health servicescould not be time-limited, and demonstrated how this could in factcreate dependency, thus helping the actors to see their services froma new perspective which aided innovative thinking.
Project output and impact:-Two coherent, successful funding applications, worth £451,760; themost ever granted to the organisation.- A new wellbeing service rolled out across the Tyneside region- A new client-focused service development process- A shift in organisational culture- A commitment from Mind England and Wales to create an internalService Design resource within their national office and to pilot theapproach in three other local Mind organisations.
Learning outcomes:Northumbria University: The case study has provided vital datatowards the on-going PhD study, and has been used in thepublication of two academic papers. The project has generated avaluable partner in the department’s on-going research into the roleof design in different communities.Tyneside Mind: The organisation now has the ability to recognisewhere they have become entrenched in traditional patterns ofworking and have adopted a user-centred process to challengeestablished perceptions and develop desirable, effective services.The work has also helped them to be recognised as an innovativeorganisation by the Mind federation, and led to the federationinvesting significantly in the use of service design across the network,with Tyneside Mind being labelled a site of best practice.
The successes of the project: The developed service is more user-centred, or client-focused on the progression of service users, whichis both better for their mental health and relieves capacity problemsfor TM. The resulting development has been highly praised by theMind federation, who have subsequently committed significant fundsto promote service design across the Mind network.The key shortcomings of the project: Although TM are committedto using service design, they lack the capacity and skills within theexisting team to use this effectively all of the time.The key barriers to the project: The short timescale meant that thedesigner could only work with TM, and was unable to get keypartners to participate in the design approach. TM therefore had togain buy-in to the developed service from these partners without theunderstanding that their participation would have brought.The key enablers of the project: The attitude of all TM’sstakeholders was integral to the success of this work; theirwillingness to engage in a service design process, their desire andcommitment to change, and the permission granted to think and actdifferently.
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