We know that in many cases, when we install FixMyStreet Pro for a new council, we’re bringing not only a smooth reporting interface for residents, but also a better day-to-day experience for staff. In the case of Peterborough City Council, that was very much the case.

A very manual process

Peterborough had been using a stopgap solution for street reports, after the service they had been using ceased to exist. So, for some time, residents had been asked to make their reports through basic online forms. Not too onerous, but clunky enough.

The real pain point was mostly experienced, however, by council personnel. Customer services staff had the job of manually transferring the details from a spreadsheet and into the council’s Confirm CRM, where highways inspectors could pick up the reports and act upon them.

Then, once an issue had been resolved, inspectors manually updated another spreadsheet to let the customer service centre know of the status change, in case the report-maker called for an update.

There was no automated means by which a user could be updated with progress on reports, or told when it had been fixed.

So in short, FixMyStreet Pro will be making life easier all round, for staff and for residents. Plus the easier internal workflow should save a substantial amount of time and money, while keeping citizens engaged and informed every step of the way.

Improved efficiency

Councillor Farooq Mohammed said, “The introduction of FixMyStreet has brought in significant improvements to the services PCC provide to its residents. FixMyStreet not only brings efficiencies to various service departments, it is very user friendly and easy to use for our residents. This improves the response time to our residents.”

And Peterborough’s ICT Project Manager Jason Dalby added, “mySociety fully understood the challenges we face as a local authority and very quickly turned our requirements into an automated fault reporting system with integration into our Highways back office Confirm system, improving our efficiency by eliminating manual data entry.

“We are proud to be partners with mySociety and continue to work closely with them to improve Fix My Street for our mutual benefit”.

We’ll continue working with the council over the next few months on their other service areas too, so watch this space.

If you’re a council and there’s potential for efficiencies  in your reporting system (whether large or small), do check out the FixMyStreet Pro website, and then get in touch.

 —

Image: Dun.can (CC by/2.0)

Original source – mySociety

ian curwen unawards.jpg

The UnAwards19 are almost here but without a team of judges to wade through the entries they wouldn’t be possible. Here are the reflections of a long-time judge on what makes a great entry.

by Ian Curwen

I am proud that I was once again a member of the judging panel for the UnAwards. This was actually my fifth year as a judge. It’s not a lie when I say I consider it a huge honour to do this, and for Darren to consider my view of what’s good in communications to mean something!

The awards have changed over the past five years, but what hasn’t changed is the passion and commitment on display from those who enter.

Here are some of the things I learned from judging this year:

1. Simplicity

A good idea is a good idea is a good idea. Each year I’ve been blown away by the entries that are submitted.

But what always strikes me is that the best are those which keep it simple, with a straightforward idea at their heart.

To give one example – one entry used a simple, memorable hashtag, in the run up to Christmas, to share stories they might not otherwise had the opportunity to do so.

2. Audience insight

This is one that really makes me smile. Over my five years of judging, there has been a huge shift from campaigns and ideas based on gut feel towards those that are based on data, evidence and audience insight.

In fact, the very best entries are those that clearly understand their audience needs. Funnily enough, they get the best results too.

One of the very best entries I’ve seen was for a fire service that conducted nudge testing on its home fire safety check service letters. They tested a number of different versions and eventually went with the one that had the best response.

As we’re required to get more bang for our buck, this approach will become the norm.

3. Use of Facebook groups

It’s no longer good enough to post something to your corporate Facebook page and consider that job done.

If you really want to engage with your audience, you need to find them. This now means searching out the most relevant Facebook groups and sharing your content with the members.

The reality is that if you don’t do this, your audience probably aren’t seeing or hearing what you’ve got to say. No matter how pretty or well written your content is.

4. Small budgets are no barrier – they’re the norm

This is a key part of the Unawards ethos, but it really does shine through in all the entries. Budgets are not the norm, and where they do exist, they are spent wisely to complement other activity, rather than being the key to a door marked extravagance (or free stuff).

The results are campaigns which are more creative and innovative, and which certainly do deliver.

5. Creativity

As outlined above, if you haven’t got a budget then you have to think differently about how you’re going to reach your audience.

Gone are expensive newspaper adverts, and glossy posters, and in comes social-led campaigns. But in a crowded marketplace, you need to think creatively to really hit the mark.

I won’t spoil any winners’ announcements here, but will say that in the past, success has included Lego figures, children’s voiceovers and new takes on traditional stories.

6. Volume

I have been delighted to see how the number of award entries has increased over the years. The sheer volume in recent years has been a bit of a wake-up call to the task ahead, when it comes to judging. But that can only be a good thing!

As always, I now look forward to the best day in my communications calendar – the UnAwards ceremony, which is taking place in Birmingham on Friday 6 December 2019.

See you there.

Ian Curwen is a stakeholder relations officer in the nuclear sector. You can say hello to him on Twitter at @IanCurwen

Image via Vallgall

Original source – comms2point0 free online resource for creative comms people – comms2point0

This a guest blog by Joe Mitchell from Democracy Club, a non-profit whose aim is to create the digital foundations to support everyone’s participation in democratic life.


The TL; DR

Democracy Club has produced an election information widget that you can add to any website. It’s free. It provides candidate and, where we have it, polling location information for any postcode.

Check it out:

The backstory

As you may be aware, the UK Parliamentary General Election will take place on 12 December.

You may be less aware that no public body takes responsibility for accurate, locally relevant digital information about elections.

Local governments publish election and candidate data as PDFs on their websites (or, in one notorious case, simply printed out and stuck up on the noticeboard outside the council offices).

Polling location information is printed on cards and sent, in theory, to every voter. It sometimes never arrives. And good luck if you live in a house of multiple occupancy, if you struggle to read the print, if you lose it or if you don’t have it with you when you need to refer to it.

Digital technology has massively improved access to information in many other areas of our lives, so a group of volunteer developers and digital types got together to try to apply the approach to elections in the UK.

That group formed Democracy Club, which is now several thousand volunteers and a small core team constantly working to bring together election, candidate and results data. We also work with local government to aggregate local polling location data and make it available online.

The candidate data we produce is published openly and is used by news media, campaign organisations and, ultimately, voters to learn more and participate in the campaigns. The polling location data we produce is available via an API.

Not everyone has the time to develop a stand-alone product with our data. So we produced a polling location finder widget, which has been popular among local newspapers and local councils. Today, we’ve introduced a widget which includes  candidates data too. Users pop in their postcode and away they go. They can click through to a candidate’s page on WhoCanIVoteFor.co.uk for more information.

The civic need for this information is clear. At the last general election, polling location data was accessed (via our website, The Electoral Commission’s website or via the widget) over 1.8m times at the last general election. Candidates information was accessed over 1m times, but this doesn’t count all the uses powered by a one-off CSV download.

The fact that this information — increasingly critical to our functioning as a democratic society — is managed and produced by a tiny non-profit is not a ringing endorsement of our democratic institutions’ fitness for the 21st century.

Democracy Club is working hard to convince public bodies to take on the basic open data elements of our work: when are elections happening, for which area, who are the candidates, what is their preferred contact method, what were the results, etc. And civic user needs go beyond elections — we can’t get to a world of user-friendly, accessible information about democratic processes until the raw data exists for local democracy too.

But for now, at least there’s a widget.

Let us know what you think! You’re welcome to hop into the Democracy Club Slack — or reach out via Twitter or email.

Image: Justgrimes (CC by-sa/2.0)

Original source – mySociety

When it comes to building digital products, we face two kinds of problems:

  • common problems: very similar across contexts and which commodity solutions exist for
  • uncommon problems: unique to a particular policy area or locality, which need us to invent something bespoke

We’re always looking for more impactful ways to use our time and skills. Previously, we would lean on the excellent and much-loved Ruby on Rails framework for nearly all digital product development. But as we deal with increasingly complicated and wide-ranging challenges, we’ve been exploring alternatives that give us more of a head start on those common problems.

Strap in for a rather nerdy look at what we’ve been investigating recently.

Managing content at scale

Content management systems are cool again.

We recently delivered a new “find support near you” tool for Buckinghamshire County Council and explored options for redeveloping their adult social care webpages. With these, we took the opportunity to test new approaches to technical product architecture.

Long dominated by the reliable but boring WordPress, Drupal and similar options, managing content hasn’t been a particularly interesting topic within digital projects for a long time. They’re a good example of a common problem with a commodity solution.

Content management tools have looked like this basically forever.

Headless content management tools like Contentful, Prismic and Sanity chop off the front-end, leaving you with an interface for administrating your content and a flexible API. The idea is that your front-end web developers are then free to build whatever experience they want, without having to “play nice” with the conventions of a particular CMS.

This is particularly enticing to us at FutureGov. While we do have back-end development skills, we’ve always been more about the user experience.

The product team enjoys good user experience more than they enjoy ice cream.

Sadly we found that, in this case, the pricing structures of these tools weren’t promising. Contentful, for instance, starts off free, but would soon move into aggressively priced premium features. It’s always hard for councils to move beyond a commissioning/capital expenditure model of paying for digital work toward an ongoing cost model. Since these are SaaS (rather than self-hosted) tools, there’s a degree of lock-in too. Which is a tough sell in the public sector.

Given that this work had no expectation of large ongoing costs, we struggled to make the case for using these headless SaaS content tools.

Some of the CMS options we explored in our technology discovery.

The self-hosted options for headless content management are a lot more limited. There’s Strapi and a few other options, but these are still quite immature tools that we wouldn’t be comfortable using beyond prototypes, yet.

We did stumble upon a winner though: Wagtail

Masquerading as a conventional CMS, Wagtail has a very handsome API that was perfect for our needs. The Wagtail philosophy is that configuration is code. This means that developers don’t need to wade through complicated UIs to make changes they’d be more comfortable coding, and content editors get a cleaner and simpler experience.

It’s a philosophy that’s well-placed to avoid feature creep that ruins lots of enterprise software. And it’s the main reason we liked it.

Even better, there’s a reasonably mature community and some big public sector users, including the NHS. It’ll also power the new unitary Buckinghamshire Council website. We had fun making things with Wagtail on this project and we’ll definitely be using it in future.

Managing community datasets

The other half of this project was managing something totally different: a sprawling database of thousands of community groups, activities and services across the county.

We were moving this database, formerly a series of spreadsheets, online for the first time. It was an exciting opportunity to digitise a team’s processes, as well as open up the dataset to real-time queries with web APIs.

Some members of the team whose work would be substantially changed by these new tools.

To store the data itself, we chose the non-relational database MongoDB over our normal go-to, PostgreSQL, because crushing spreadsheet data down to fit a fixed database schema in one go wasn’t practical. We needed to enforce a schema gradually as we go, probably similar to the emerging OpenReferral standard. MongoDB stores blobs of JSON as documents, and doesn’t require a common schema from one document to the next. Perfect! MongoDB also has space-age geospatial querying features, which drive a location-based search feature.

We didn’t have time to develop a totally custom, one-off data management interface, and didn’t really want to since we’re finding that stewarding this kind of data is a common problem across councils.

Instead, we tried Forest Admin, a generic admin panel framework which did indeed save us plenty of time.

The killer feature was the lack of lock-in. We can host our data however we like and never lose control over it — Forest Admin accesses it via an API. Forest Admin wasn’t perfect — the responsiveness and speed of the interface left a little to be desired, but it still let us deliver an impactful product quickly by freeing us up to focus on bigger problems.

We think the problem of data stewardship is common enough to warrant good commodity solutions, but we didn’t quite find the tools we hoped for.

What’s next?

We’re already seeing opportunities to refine this work in other locations, and there are some lessons we’d apply:

  1. Wagtail could well be one of our go-to tools for building large, content-heavy sites.
  2. Data management and stewardship is a common problem with solutions still emerging. Forest Admin is probably not the right tool for long-term use, so we have our eyes open for the right one. If we don’t find it, we’re not averse to building it!

If you know of a tool or technology we missed and think we’d like, get in touch.


Exploring new ways to build digital products was originally published in FutureGov on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Original source – FutureGov

I blogged a few weeks ago about the kick-off of our rebrand. We’ve finished phase 1 which was a research and discovery phase, and are just starting phase 2. So it’s a good time to share an update on what we’ve done so far.

Introductions

We started with an introductory meeting with the design agency we’re working with, Manchester based Fieldwork. They were chosen because their values are very similar to ours, they work in an agile way, and we LOVE the design work they’ve done.

We talked about our aspirations for the rebrand and how we would work together. And Fieldwork explained the 3 different phases of the project which are research and discovery, brand development and application.

We agreed this would be a partnership, with regular discussion and iterative development of our new brand identity. There’d be no ‘big bang’ reveal which would risk us ending up with something that wasn’t right, and wasting time and effort on both sides.

Perceptions of dxw

Fieldwork then did some research. They talked to a few of our clients and other people who know us, to find out what their perceptions of dxw are. What services do they think we offer? Are we any good at what we do? Are we expensive? What about our values? What did they like, and not like, about their experience of us? They were able to draw on some earlier research we’d done ourselves too.

They also looked at what some of the other digital agencies working with the public sector were saying about their work and how they presented it on their websites, blogs, and social media. This would help us think about how to communicate what differentiates us in this space, our unique dxw offer, and our values.

Discovery day

Fieldwork brought along what they’d found out to a discovery day. This was a full day’s workshop with a small number of people from dxw, where we explored what we think dxw is really about in lots of detail.

We talked about:

  • why we exist and our values. And the words we would use to describe ourselves
  • the strengths of our current brand and the possible risks associated with change
  • where we’re heading as a company. Where do we want to be one year on, and our aspirations for 5 years from now?
  • our clients and what their needs are. How we engage with them and what their experience of working with us is like. And the sectors we’d like to do more work with

Fieldwork then went away and summarised the main things coming out of the day, and their research, in a report.

Visual discovery

The next and final part of the discovery, was a visual one. We started to get pretty excited at this point.

Fieldwork sent us a selection of existing designs to react to. Some well known, others less so. They asked us to share our initial gut reaction to what we saw. To tell them what we liked and didn’t like, with one or two sentences explaining why.

The things they sent us to react to included:

  • abstract symbols
  • different types of logos
  • colours and colour combinations
  • different applications (the fun bit)

Our feedback provided Fieldwork with some hints on the way forward as we moved onto the next phase, thinking about some initial visual concepts for the new dxw brand.

What happens next

This week we got the first concepts through. So we’re now starting phase 2 and an ongoing process of feedback and iteration as we develop our new brand identity.

We’ll let you know how that goes.

The post dxw digital rebrand: the research and discovery phase appeared first on dxw digital.

Original source – dxw digital

How to use service patterns is something that I know a number of different organisations are starting to think about. This is a conversation that I’ve seen prompted by the LocalGov Patterns library that we’ve been working on at FutureGov with Essex County Council.

Here are some of my thoughts.

Delivering consistency at scale

As a starting point, it’s important to recognise that there are different types of patterns, and that service patterns are usually distinct from the typical type of work that is documented in a ‘Design System’ (for example, see the GOV.UK design system).

I heard an excellent talk from Lily Dart last month at Create Leicester about designing and scaling design systems for digital delivery (Lily is currently working with Lloyds Banking Group Digital). Lily explained that successful companies realise that to scale delivery they need both high levels of autonomy in teams, and high levels of consistency for design. ‘Design Systems’ are the solution for supporting this type of digital development at scale.

The challenge here is that there are excellent examples and case studies for how to scale digital delivery, but it’s less clear if any organisations have been able to scale consistency in how teams design full end to end services in this way. Including the organisation design needed around ways of working and supporting operational processes.

Optimising for the design of services

The usefulness of service patterns is dependent on how you understand and start to approach the design of services in your organisation.

A pattern is something that you can work with, and design from, once you understand it better.

Taking local government as an example, if the starting assumption is that many transactions will be similar across councils, the idea of reusable patterns makes a lot of sense. But the focus here in making patterns reusable is mostly about interaction design. This might also be focused on the reuse of common technology components and capabilities. As described before, this is optimising for how you scale digital delivery and the consistency and quality of design in this process.

This is the point where it becomes helpful to start thinking about different types of patterns as part of the design of end to end services.

Moving beyond digital delivery, teams can start to work with patterns across whole services, thinking more broadly about the design of different types of user journeys and future scenarios.

As I’ve shared before, work on service patterns is a valuable exercise and starting point for understanding services from different types of perspective.

The greatest value of the LocalGov patterns library is arguably being able to filter and understand how individual transactions and patterns are linked and relate to one another, especially across different parts of local government. You can apply filters using different life events, thinking more about the role and purpose that a service has when something happens, or when someone is going through a specific situation.

Service patterns are most useful here as a process of understanding how things work, and differences in how things happen, or how they are connected in different types of situations. They then start to show and create opportunities for how things could be reconfigured and work differently in the future.

Scaling the quality of service design

This is a different mindset to patterns being seen only as reusable components, reducing the need for design in order to create, scale and improve services.

Focusing on understanding and working with service patterns might even mean that there is more design required rather than less. This potentially includes the increased cost of investing in design and designers to work on the design of end to end services and user journeys.

Most importantly, service patterns are about delivery of service quality at scale because they help us to better understand how things work, and what needs to happen in order to meet the needs of service users and staff. They can help us to consider the role of our organisation in how a service is delivered, and how this shapes our work with partners and other organisations.

Rather than services that are simply more efficiently delivered because of reusable components, the efficiencies created here are delivered through better designed services. This means less points of failure, offset costs for other channels, and the additional face to face support required when high volume transactions don’t work as people need or expect them to.

Encouraging collaboration from abstraction

Abstraction is important to consider when working with service patterns. There is often a valid argument made that any design patterns without context are difficult to reuse or implement. For example, a generic ‘pay for something’ pattern. But again, when we’re thinking about service patterns the value isn’t exclusively about reuse.

Working with service patterns should be about shaping and informing the start of a design process where you have to work with an understanding of the people and situation that you’re designing for.

Thinking more about abstraction I really liked the thinking here in Neil Tamplin’s blog post:

“Service patterns are not detailed enough to tell the whole story of how something works because there’s a moderate level of abstraction, but it’s just enough detail to recognise that people in different organisations might be doing very similar things that benefit from further joined up thinking.”

Patterns at a service level are also about the potential for collaboration, and for understanding and building on what others are already doing. A documented pattern is what invites the conversation and further collaboration, especially at a cross-sector level. This is where I still think the real value in LocalGov Patterns library might be.

Patterns are obvious, but they’re only a starting point

I’ve previously said that patterns should be obvious, what I call the wallpaper or curtains principle).

When this is the case we should treat patterns like first principles in service design. In this way they act as something that teams can work from with a level of confidence.

Seeing them as starting point is important because it is more efficient to start with what we already know. This includes where we have already designed or delivered something that works in a similar way, or by looking to see if how organisations have approached and designed solutions around a similar set of problems.

Service patterns are less about avoiding how to go back to first principles, and more about having a good set of first principles you have enough confidence to work with or from.

Shared values and direction

Something I’m increasingly thinking about is how service patterns will only be as effective as the values, principles, or standards that teams are working with.

There’s an increasing need for service designers to be able to articulate and work with different service models; this means keeping teams focussed along with a set of values or principles that can shape decisions and guide how decisions are made.

When thinking about how service patterns can help organisations to deliver better services consistently, this depends on how these types of values and service principles are applied.

The GOV.UK design principles act like a set of shared values for how services are designed in UK government. These principles are also supported by a service standard that guides how government teams are expected to work and deliver services. Most of all, these support a consistency at scale for how services are being designed, and for shaping and directing decision making. But, importantly, they also allow individual teams the autonomy they need to design and make decisions based on user research that brings context and a perspective to what they’re working on.

To summarise, the design and documentation of a service pattern (and the technology that supports it) might feasibly become something that’s shared across functional areas in an organisation i.e. where one solution can be consumed or used by multiple services. But, most of all, service patterns should be seen as part of a design process that starts with what we already know about how things work, or could work in the future.

Working with service patterns means working from a shared understanding of your own services, as well as recognising where and how other teams, including those in other organisations, have approached and designed for similar user journeys, needs and scenarios.

Service pattern libraries have the potential to be used as a different type of design system, and as a useful resource for teams to work with and collaborate from. But this relies on designing and being able to scale how you make decisions as the result of future service models, principles and the shared values of your organisation.

This post was first published on my personal blog.


How to use service patterns was originally published in FutureGov on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Original source – FutureGov

louisa dean 7 steps.png

The subject of communications strategies is never too far away from a conversation involving industry colleagues. Here’s a smart 7-step guide to creating one which could work for you.

by Louisa Dean

I’ve seen a lot of chat on twitter recently about evaluation and how important it is but also comms peeps saying how difficult it is to find the time to produce strategies, plans and then evaluate against them.  

I remember just over two years ago when a friend asked me what my priorities were at work. I couldn’t answer him. I knew I had lots to do but there was no strategy or plan just reactive firefighting. I felt slightly embarrassed, I knew we had work to do and we’ve been on a bit of a journey since (I hate that word, sounds like I have been on X Factor, but it has been). I wanted to share my journey with all those who think they don’t have time to do the planning and why I think it is important.

Here are my seven steps to changing the way you do comms, finding the time to do it and getting the results you deserve.

Step one – Get the right team in place

We reorganised the comms team with the aim of freeing up important time to sit down and plan what we wanted to focus on. We employed a senior comms officer, Maddie Pinkham, who helped take the pressure off me. She also had a different skill set to me which added value to a team of ex-journalists. I appreciate not everyone can do that but think about what everyone is doing and find ways to block out an hour away from the office so you can think.

Step two – Decide what you are communicating

We have a council plan with six key objectives and these things are what are important to us. So that’s what the comms team should and does focus on. We also carried out a residents’ survey last year, so we know from that what our residents think is most important.

Step three – get a plan and stick to it

The comms team developed a strategy and a plan on the page which sets out what we were going to communicate and what our message will be – this was signed off by our cabinet.

Step four – Brainstorm

We produce a monthly comms campaign that matches our six key objectives. The comms team brainstorm what we are going to promote based on cabinet/council decisions as well as keeping on top of business as usual.

Step five – Get all your comms in a row

Again, this is an hour away from the office to write down what we are going to do and how. We have a set template for communication plans, so councillors and officers recognise what we are producing each month. We tie up internal, external, social media, website, and monthly email newsletter into the campaign, so it all follows the same theme and there is a consistent message.

Step six – Remember to react

It’s great having a plan, we know what we are doing, and we plan two months in advance, but you still must react to emerging issues. By planning our time effectively, we can still react to emerging issues even though we have a small team.

Step seven – Evaluate

This is so important. You need to know what worked well and want didn’t. If it didn’t work this time, could it work next time under a different campaign with a different message? Without this step we are not completing the planning cycle.

 

We’ve seen a real difference in our comms work with higher engagement on social media, high click rates on our newsletters, and overall there is a more focused, coherent message across all of our activities..

  • Average engagement rates on our social media channels up by 7%

  • Our followers on both Twitter and Facebook grow every month and are up by 3k across both channels in the last year

  • We have 45% click rate on our newsletter with over 20k residents receiving news from us in this format.

  • On one recent campaign we saw average engagement rates of 22% on Facebook, during the campaign, and we have seen a 27% increase in people reporting potholes online compared to the same time last year.

We still have more to learn but the change in the team is incredible and one that I am proud of. And I have seen a change in me too – it took some time, but this is a method I believe in and I know it works. I am now mentoring a colleague in another council to help them implement a similar system. So, that conversation of two years ago, whilst I may have been embarrassed at the time I’m certainly not now.

Louisa Dean is communications manager at the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead and you can say hello to her on Twitter at @LouisaDean23

Image via Tyne and Wear Archives and Museum

Original source – comms2point0 free online resource for creative comms people – comms2point0

jude tipper suicide post.jpg

As creator of comms2point0 I have been inspired by others in the community to do more to support health and wellbeing these past two years. But there is still much we all need to do. So please make sure you read this important blog post and thanks to Jude for sharing it. Darren

by Jude Tipper

Not having a sister suited me as a child as I could happily claim my friend Kathy in that role. Growing up, we were inseparable; a couple of kids inexplicably drawn together. Perhaps by a love of imaginary horses (don’t ask) or perhaps by childhoods that weren’t quite the norm.

No matter where life took us, we kept in touch over the years. No longer inseparable but still the unspoken bond of self-proclaimed sisterhood.

In our mid thirties, she told me stories of her medical training and lingered on how, as a trainee GP, so much of her time was given to people who were struggling with their mental health. Kathy’s gentle, kind nature coupled with the sort of wisdom only gained through tough living, made her a strong advocate for mental health. I have no doubt she helped so many.

She knew how to start that conversation.

When Zero Suicide training first appeared on my radar, I didn’t. I didn’t know how to start that conversation, to spot the signs. How do you bring up suicide with someone you’re worried about? Had I been in the position to, how would I have had this conversation with Kathy – the loss of whom broke my heart?

In just 20 minutes I learnt this was not as impossible as it sounds. The structure of the training swiftly takes you through how to approach the most difficult of topics with both sensitivity and skill. It shows you how to identify someone who may have suicidal thoughts, how to talk about it and how to signpost support.

In just 20 minutes you could learn how to save a life.

I’ve recently become vice chair of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) health group. The group has a specific workstream on mental health and wellbeing and we asked the CIPR to add the zero suicide training to the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) database.

I’m delighted that the CIPR recognise this is not just personal; it’s vital professional development. They responded quickly to the request to add the training and award CPD points. It can now be found in the CIPR CPD database and gain 5 CPD points for taking the training.

The statistics for suicide are startling. Rates in the UK have increased to their highest level since 2002. Suicide does not discriminate; suicidal thoughts can happen to anyone.

I thought I didn’t know anyone else who had been affected by suicide yet this number seems to, sadly, keep growing. Amongst my friends and amongst my colleagues.

Do you know how to spot the signs? Do you know how to start a conversation? Take 20 minutes, take the training. Suicide is not inevitable, it’s preventable. And we all have a role to play.

You can find the training online at www.zerosuicidealliance.com

Jude Tipper is strategic comms lead at NHS Digital and you can say hello on Twitter at @judetipper

Pic via Jude

Original source – comms2point0 free online resource for creative comms people – comms2point0

Landscape

The Ipsos Mori Veracity index has been published and once again nurses and politicians bookend the charts.

At the top with nurses are doctors and then teachers and dentists.

Sliding down to the bottom are politicians with a deficit of 68 per cent of people they don’t tell the truth.

Local councillors fare better with just a -13 per cent rating.

Most important of all are the average man or woman in the street with a score of +35.

ipsos

I’m grateful to Ross Wigham for retweeting the findings this afternoon as I often use the findings in training.

Why?

Because having data to hand can take the heat out of things.

You may not think that lining the politician up is the best way forward but its tricky to say ‘no’.

But if you use data it’s not you saying ‘no’ to the idea of the cabinet member starring in your video aimed at new parents.

Having that data means you can advise on more than just gut feeling.

Yes, it is more work.

Yes, it is more effective.

Picture caption: US National Archive / Flickr

Original source – The Dan Slee Blog » LOCAL SOCIAL: Is it time for a Local localgovcamp?

For over a decade, North East Lincolnshire Council and the North East Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group have worked together closely to deliver health and care services. Always looking forward, they made the bold decision to integrate organisations, structurally underpinning the ambition of bringing health and social care together as a seamless experience for residents.

Under the new Union Board, FutureGov was brought in to help design a Future Operating Model for the Union. Facing unique challenges, we’re seeking to transform two organisations to allow for the maximum integration possible whilst remaining separate entities, reconciling democratic and clinical governance and ultimately, best serving the needs of the population.

A shared lens and perspective

An organisation is like an organism, made of complex relationships between people working together to ensure evolution, sustainment and improvement. Humans interacting with other humans. But how do you bring two organisms together, each with their own unique relationships, to make one new entity?

Form follows function. Rather than looking at organisational structure, we needed to look at different categories for organisational improvement, developing the organisation first before looking at service-level improvements:

  • Is the strategy for the Union clear and directive?
  • How are data and insights used to inform the commissioning process?
  • What systems and products are used to work collaboratively and in the open?
  • What are the ways of working in place to support this?

Structuring our discovery around this, we were able to complement these questions with ones about relationships and a shared culture and mindset. The outdated, org chart assumes that people hold one role with one boss and one set of responsibilities. In a changing world, this approach doesn’t work. Behaviours, relationships and the way teams work together is what defines an organisation.

Picking our moments (and areas of focus)

Two challenges the Union faces is a large amount of unguided employee autonomy and a vision for the organisation that lacked active or directive qualities. Everyone understood the vision but didn’t know what to do with it or how to use it daily.

To help articulate behaviours and relationships, we simplified the organisational tasks into three categories:

  • strategy/governance (mainly at the top)
  • commissioning (where they meet in the middle)
  • corporate services (supporting from ‘below’)

By looking at strategic principles, commissioning & contracts and data & insights, we can understand more about where decisions are made, the tools staff have to get the job done, the skills that exist or might need to be recruited for and what capacity there is to deliver this sort of transformation.

We selected these areas to focus on because each (data and insights, contracts and prioritisation) cuts across almost all aspects of the Union. If we pull on the thread that is data and insight, we’ll likely explore and impact all corners of the organisations, which is much more meaningful than exploring singular silos.

And next…

We’ve now finished the first phase of this work with a clear sense of the opportunities for changes that could have the biggest impact, and help us to ask better questions.

This is an exciting place and opportunity to be working within. Not least because the dual Chief Executive, Rob Walsh, has set a brilliant tone that’s inspiring staff across both organisations. There’s a real sense of pride in the ambition to provide residents with seamless interactions and set the standard for a modern future of integrated health and care.

This is the first in a series of three posts that will tell the journey through discovery, prototyping and into delivery.


A 21st-century approach to seamless health and social care was originally published in FutureGov on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Original source – FutureGov