Health and Social Care is Complex


Health and social care involves numerous stakeholders with different (and sometime conflicting) interests, agendas, and worldviews: management (cost-benefit), clinicians (health best practice, professional reputation), patients (wellbeing), engineers and programmers (problems, specifications), designers (innovation), politicians (win/lose?). These stakeholders have highly specific knowledge that designers don’t have.

Service design projects may also target several improvement objectives: safety, efficiency, experience, etc.

It is difficult to design for individual care whilst also supporting a disparate group of stakeholders. For example, how to design long-term services in retirement homes that are both workplaces and homes, where relationships between residents and staff are complex, and defining where the service ends is difficult?

How can system-wide models for health services be developed that are, nevertheless, grassroots up?

Contemporary health care also provides people with numerous, potentially confusing, choices for the provision of their healthcare. How could the healthcare service empower the people to choose suitable treatments, and what is design’s role in this?


Insider knowledge is key, develop and maintain insiders – clinical partners who can act as translators or ‘boundary spanners,’ and who know who to talk to to get things done.