Finding support services: retrospective 08/04/20

We made a bold switch from a traditional ‘directory of services’ with its labour-intensive, top-down model to a delegated approach where organisations are responsible for their own listings. We want to know if our Find Support Services model has got legs, and COVID-19 has provided an unexpected opportunity to validate the proposition.

Yesterday afternoon, we ran a ‘retro’ to explore the good, the bad and the ugly of our model. We used a collaborative tool called IdeaFlip to run the workshop, which meant we could all participate online – and move Postits around without them hurling themselves off the wall, for a change.


Here are the results!

Principle 1

We will signpost health professionals and residents to relevant organisations and the onus is on them to keep their digital channels up to date with details of the services that they provide.

Has this been proved a good principle?

Yes. They pretty much all have a website or Twitter and keep it up to date, especially the latter. 

Principle 2

It’s not the concept of a directory that’s outmoded it’s the fact they are not kept up to date that renders them redundant.

Has this been proved true?

Yes, we know from both residents and professionals that they are finding this information useful because it is up to date. And we don’t really need to remind organisations to keep it up to date, they do it anyway. 

Principle 3

Organisations will sign up of their own volition.

Has this been proved true?

Yes, if we build it, they will come. But we have also learnt that the verification process we co-designed with our key stakeholders (including health and care professionals) is robust.

What else have we learnt?

The same front-end can function for both residents and professionals, however, there is a difference in the language they use. We should definitely progress our synonyms piece whereby we cross-reference search terms against a thesaurus.

As we suspected, some users need a search facility; and others also want a list of results and not solely a map.

What do we need to explore further?

  • There is often a disconnect between the person who submits the listing and the person who updates the social media. Is this a problem?
  • We’d like to know if or how organisations have adapted to make sure their digital presence is particularly up to date during Covid. Is this a reactive response or would they be doing this anyway?
  • A character limit on the About Us profile and some explanatory text for organisations on categories wouldn’t go amiss. 

We’re feeding our findings back into each iteration of the map and our Agile backlog but, all in all, our model is proving well able to stand on its own feet.

Finding support services near you: weeknote 03/04/20

Still here! Still ringing organisations every few days to check they are too! And encouraging them to update their websites and Twitter channels. Emma and Winston’s Mastermind specialist subject: Voluntary Organisations of Hackney 2020

As the current state of affairs becomes the new normal, we want to give map users helpful info upfront. We’ve reacted to feedback by adding details of specific activities provided under COVID. Organisations have generally already settled into a new rhythm – much like the rest of us – so we’re not creating an updating headache. 

In anticipation that, presumably, at some point this will all end, we spent a productive couple of hours yesterday hammering the service categories into some sort of order. The original data came from the Well St pilot and now we’re calling on YOU to indulge in a spot of audience participation. Please take 5mins to give your view on how you would group and name these activities. It’s the sort of mindless task that goes well with a bottle of ginger beer and a bourbon. Ahem. 

We now have 75 organisations on the map. We know from other Council projects that food is an area that concerns many residents and have made a push to make sure that deliveries and food banks are well-represented across the borough.

We’ve added an organisation search and also designed a style for those HQ’d outside Hackney but have a strong presence in the borough. Plus users can now download the data to a spreadsheet, while reminding would-be print-ers that the information changes regularly and they only have a snapshot in time. 

The map is on many radars including Coventry, Lambeth, Leicester and Trafford Councils, UK Authority, KPMG and Liverpool John Moores University. Remember, it’s all on GitHub for reuse by development teams. 

COVID has given us an unexpected opportunity to test our concept in the field. We’ll be running a retrospective next week on ‘lessons learnt during COVID’ and are determined to come out of this faster, stronger and leaner.

Stay safe. Wash your hands. Share the map.

Finding support services near you: weeknote 27/03/20

This week’s weeknote is brought to you by team member Meg Dibb-Fuller .

Hope you’re keeping healthy and safe during these uncertain times.

Before I go into an update, here’s a sneak peek into the fabulous human engine (and home offices) behind the project this week… 

Proving our hypothesis

Since we redefined our problem statement, our plan was to design the product to put the onus on organisations keeping their information up to date – on their own websites and social media – and for us to signpost our visitors to these channels. This was the only way we could see our ‘directory’ being a success. Otherwise we would be adding to the problem (another ‘directory’) rather than taking away (a single ‘directory’).

We’ve had the opportunity to test this with the arrival of COVID-19. And the good news is (yes, there is some): this model is working.

We continue to check in with listed organisations to make sure they are still open but we barely need to enquire if they’re keeping their websites and social media up to date. They know that, if they don’t, nobody knows what they are up to. This is putting us in good stead for the next phase of our journey.


Living in the now with one foot in the future

We are delighted that the map is meeting the needs of those who need it right now, but we need to be thinking about how it can flex, adapt and scale to meet the demands of the end-users once we get back to ‘normality’. More info on the longer term project in previous weeknotes.

We have started tapping into the heads behind tech companies and local authorities to see how we can partner up on our approach over the coming weeks. Watch this space as these convos progress.

How can you help?

  1. Keep sharing the map across your own marketing channels (newsletters, intranet, websites, social media etc)
  2. Tweet! Here is some content that may help you get going
  3. If you know of an organisation that should be featured on the map but isn’t, please ask them to fill in this form
  4. Give us some feedback. Are we missing anything on the map – orgs or categories? Have any suggestions? Get in touch today

That’s all folks. Look after yourselves (but please don’t stockpile loo roll!)

Finding support services near you: weeknotes 19/03/20

This week’s weeknote is brought to you by team member Meg Dibb-Fuller

What a week!

For the Finding Support Services project team it’s been a week full of new trials, new websites and new team members!

A reminder for those who aren’t sure of where this project came from, this digital project is sponsored by the City and Hackney Integrated Care Partnership (ICP) to help Joe Bloggs (a fictional person) from London Fields (his mates and his health and care team, also fictional) to find the right support that he needs as close to home as possible, quickly and easily.

We were tickling along quite nicely with the project and then… boom. Covid-19 hit us with a bang. 

Responding to Covid-19

Over the weekend, the number of positive Covid-19 tests increased rapidly across the UK. As such, we were asked this question on Monday morning:

“How can you grow a minimum viable digital product from a small trial into a business-as-usual service, with the potential to be used by thousands of residents and health and care professionals across City and Hackney?”

Ermmmm…. :/

Well, this is what we did.

The project team rallied around and, using data gathered from our minimum viable product (MVP) in Well St, pulled together a map of local voluntary and support services – live in 36 hours from inception to delivery. 

There are many reasons why were could accomplish this:

  1. Strong Relationships – Hackney CVS’s relationship with the Integrated Care Partnership and the voluntary and community sector. The information and data gathered was a core reason as to why we could get this up and running as quickly as we did
  2. Comradery and risk taking HackIT turning an existing prototype into a usable template. Read more about it here (the map template is open source on GitHub for reuse if you need it!)
  3. Flexibility – the resources (laptops, online tools, etc) and trust in our team that enabled flexible working from home
  4. Following Agile Principles – we were able to adapt to feedback and within the first 24 hours had fixed two bugs (inc. the map not being visible on Internet Explorer – sorry, NHS staff) and added two features (inc. making the map easier to navigate) 

Phew, take a breath. 

Before you get in touch and ask us the million dollar question: how is this map staying up to date?

Well, the original plan was to put the onus on organisations to keep their information up to date on their own websites and social media, and for us to signpost our visitors to these channels. This remains the case. However, the current situation being as it is, there was not enough time to build an automated account creation, verification and reverification workflow and we have had to adapt. 

We continue to urge listed organisations to keep their websites and social media up to date but we are checking in with them regularly to make sure they are doing this, and are remaining open. All the while building relationships, and driving home the importance of up to date online information that is so central to our delivery. 

How can you help?

  1. Share the web link across your own marketing channels (newsletters, intranet, websites, social media etc) – we are happy to help pull content together 
  2. Send us links to any comms you’ve done and we will reshare!
  3. If you know of a local organisation that would want to be featured on the map, please ask them to fill in this form

What’s next?

So much. We’ll be in touch next week once we have managed to take a breath and prioritise what we ‘must do’ vs what we ‘should’ or ‘could do’. 

Until then. Keep healthy and safe.  

PS Yesterday we were the 3rd most visited page on – after the Homepage and Coronavirus pages! Proves how much this project is valued – and needed.

Finding support services near you: weeknotes 08/03/20

As we’ve previously mentioned, we’re running Finding support services near you under Agile principles. We recognise this may be a departure for some of you reading these weeknotes – though, if you’re reading weeknotes, I hate to say it but you’ve already departed! Agile, at its heart, is about collaboration and our aim is to make our comms sufficiently engaging and transparent that you feel connected to the project and know that your opinions, questions and input are valued. Indeed, we actively want you to help us to make decisions together. 

You don’t have to wait for the weekly missive to find out what we’re up to. You can check in on progress whenever you want via our public Trello board. Extensive user research has given us a good handle on what this product of ours is going to look like and you’ll see in Trello that we are breaking its delivery into fortnightly sprints. Again, this is an Agile concept; its aim is to deliver value early and consistently so that we can adjust and iterate as we go. We love a big ribbon-cutting moment as much as the next Project Manager but we also know that the continual check-ins and corrections of Agile pay off. 

The tasks we’ve set ourselves are in the current ‘sprint’ column and the ‘backlog’ is a list of things we haven’t yet scheduled. You may notice that we write our tasks to include the what, who for and why. For example, ‘Display categories on the front-end so that users can browse to a relevant service’ is written as a user story that helps us stay focussed on what we are trying to achieve. We don’t want to blithely crack on with a task without thinking because therein lies the ‘busy but not productive’ mantra.

Enough of the Agile re-run, what have you been up to?

The Readers

We hear you. See, we are listening! 

We’re halfway through sprint 1. We’ve created our advice for organisations on how to write good About Us sections and this will be reviewed this week with a content expert. We’ve also devised our first attempt at a categorisation to help organisations describe what they do, who for and why. It’s their own user story, in a way. Both the About Us and categorisation will help website visitors find services and organisations that are relevant to them.  

Following extensive user research, we’ve finalised our step-by-step guide to the admin interface of MiDoS – our database software – so that organisations can add their listing to our website. We’ll add the verification process once it’s built. 

We’ve also had a peek at the out-the-box MiDoS front-end so that we can better understand how it’s put together. Although we’re building our own custom front-end for the website, we may use this out-the-box version for early testing. We’ve also started mocking up wireframes (think architect’s drawings) of the custom front-end and we’ll start user-testing with those in future sprints. It’s our intention to use the existing Hackney WordPress theme for the look and feel of the website.

The team has carried out desk research to clarify how easy WordPress, Wix, Meetup and Eventbrite are to use. This information will feed into our upskilling piece for organisations who need to develop an online presence from scratch. We’ll be pulling this together in the rest of the sprint. 

That’s all for now. Please fire off your questions or feedback to us and, remember, Trello is round-the-clock if it’s 3am and you just really want to know what we’re up to. Though I can tell you: sleeping. Now go and count some sheep.