Service Design in Care: Paperwork over Care

Catalina Bonavia | 15 March 2022


- 6 steps to turn the ship around -

Let’s face the elephant in the room; paperwork is taking over the time and headspace that was previously used to look after the aged care customers and disability services participants. And let’s be honest…stopping and taking your head out of the water to think of better ways of doing things is a luxury that you feel you can’t afford (because if you do, who is going to complete the forms that are piling up?). 

If we combine that with the disconnected systems that are working more like blockers than enablers, together with the general community sense that ‘aged care is where people go to die’, then, my friends, we have the perfect combo for disaster.  

I hear you saying: ‘Yep, we know, we tried different things, we hired consultants, we bought a new software, but nothing changed.’ 

I recently read this phrase that resonated with me at a personal level and made me think a lot about organisations. “You don’t rise to the level of your goals; you fall to the level of your systems” (and there is where service design comes in!) 

How can using service design thinking can help you turn the ship around? 

  1. First of all, you need to deeply understand what you are solving for: There are two main actions to take: Engage with your team and with your customers to understand their pain points AND get in the shoes of a three-year-old and ask them and yourself WHY? WHY? WHY? And WHY?What you’re solving for is not the software or the lack of time, it’s something more profound (and trust me, I know you are busy). But why? Why are you so busy? (Did I hear you say ‘regulations’)? Go deeper. Why are the regulations not allowing your team to focus on your customers? Because they take too much time? Ok, and why? Because the software is not easy to use? Is that really it? Could it be that your processes and systems are disconnected? Could it have to do with teams working in siloes? And why do they work in siloes? And hang on… are your processes designed based on what your customers are going through? Or are your systems driving your processes and them driving your customer experience?
  2. Test your hypothesis: We are humans and, therefore, we are biased by our own circumstances, mindsets, experiences, and thoughts. Even after engaging with your team and customers, your bias can secretly come in and make what they said look quite different to what you heard. As such, engagement round two is essential to test if what you now think are the problems, are the same problems that they think are key.
  3. Now it’s time to prioritise: One of our aged care clients came up with a list of 25 things to solve for after the research that we presented them with. But 25 can be too much and if there’s one thing you need to take away from this blog, it is that trying to do all 25 will not only set you up for failure in the delivery, but it will also cause great disengagement and take you deeper into the paperwork ocean. To prioritise you can check out this blog and this free workshop template. But before you use the priority matrix, make sure that the only things that even make it to the workshop are going to have customer impact.
  4. Design the customer experience: Let’s say that the problem you need to solve is the relationship between your ‘at home aged care customers’ and their case managers. Brilliant-the first thing we need to do is design what that relationship will look like, what information each of them need from each other? what channels do they prefer? What are the moments that matter in that relationship?
  5. Design your processes: Continuing with the same example, I bet your case managers are super busy. What are the high value activities that they do? How do they do those? What are the low value activities that they do? Can we automate those? How many systems are they using? Designing simple processes that are supported by simple systems is the key here.
  6. Then design your technology: Once you know exactly what you need from your tech, you can start looking at tech solutions (not before!). What about automated bi-weekly text messages that are sent on behalf of your case managers and give them the opportunity to raise things? Maybe once a month they visit 25% of their customers and make that visit highly valuable? In that case, you will need support scheduling visits and organising the best way to get from one place to another. Maybe instead of having to go back to the office to complete paperwork about their visits, we can design an interactive form that they can complete from an iPad that can be saved in the system? 

This can be done with multiple things – intake, transitioning between services, transitioning to hospital, respite care, and the list goes on. At each of these points you may want to look at how many forms are you asking your customers to fill out? And what happens with them after they are completed? Is your team copying and pasting information? Are they typing it in? Are you asking repeated questions? Are you using that information at all?  

I know that you are passionate about taking care of your customers and that you want what’s best for them and for your team. Trust me when I say that it is exactly that what gets me and the team at Three6 out of the bed every morning. We want to make your life easier so that you can take care of those that really need you (and not spend the whole day drowning in paperwork)! 

Grab a free 30-minute consult with me and let’s turn this ship around!