The state of our social care system is fragile – with some arguing that it may have reached crisis point. With the care deficit rising and the ageing population putting increasing pressure on health and social care systems, there is an urgent need to find more effective and efficient ways of delivering the services that truly meet citizens’ needs.
As designers, we are naturally optimistic and believe that there are better solutions out there to meet these needs, even if they don’t exist yet. As part of our ideas and innovation Lab, Hatch, we’re using creative research methods and strategic design to spark debate and imagine a ‘series of better futures for social care’. This blog piece tells you more about our team’s work to date, and the ways in which you can join us on our mission to create future systems that deliver more sustainable health and social care services, experiences and ultimately, better futures.
Earlier this year the Chancellor agreed to invest an additional £2bn into social care over the next 3 years in response to the growing calls that England’s social care system has reached ‘crisis point’. While this unexpected financial aid is much welcomed, many health and social care professionals believe it’s too little too late to create a sustainable way forward for social care.
If current trends continue, the Health Foundation estimates that by 2030 adult social care will have a £13bn deficit – the biggest expense of which will be around long-term care. In response to this, we’re using ‘What If…’ provocations to create a series of ‘fictional futures’ that explore what a more sustainable vision of social care could look like.
Hatch – an opportunity for more radical thinking
As part of our ideas and innovation Lab – Hatch – we’re exploring how the use of data, empirical research and speculative design methods can be combined to help shape the health and care services, strategies and policies of tomorrow. By blending exploratory futures methods and our strategic design practice; we’re unpacking how ‘design fiction’ can be of strategic relevance to the UK public sector and civil service – provoking, challenging and encouraging more radical thinking in the way we develop sustainable social care systems.
You can read more of our thoughts on the value of speculative design to the public sector here; and how we’ve applied it previously to explore the possible impact of AI on health and care services in 2030 here.
Although not an entirely new methodology, this exploratory programme of work is about the application of design fiction and speculative methods to help navigate complex and often hard-to-imagine health and care transformation – bringing new thinking into policy design and creation.
Grounded in data, present system shifts and historical patterns, each different future attempts to spark conversation and reflection around the current and future state of social care. Over the coming months our work will see scenarios, fictional narratives and future artefacts used to spark debate amongst a network of social care experts – including patients and carers; before working to co-design an opportunity roadmap for future transformational change.
At its core, the aims of this Future of Social Care project are to:
1. Build a network to drive transformative change
We want to bring together those interested in, engaged with or currently transforming the social care landscape through their work, research or expert insight to drive change.
2. Educate and inform
We will build a more informed and collective understanding of the challenges facing social care through exploratory and cutting-edge speculative, ethnographic and quantitative research methods, tools and approaches.
3. Spark conversation and reflection
We are looking to fuel debate on current and future systems of care – challenging our assumptions about current citizen and population needs and barriers, perceived care gaps and preferable futures.
4. Progress and scale ideas
We will push forward current thinking, dialogue and discussion from isolated products and services into systems-level thinking, mapping and design.
5. Identify short and long term opportunities
Our work will map the opportunities for short and long-term quality improvement, transformation and innovation across the social care system.
Help lead the proposition today for better care systems tomorrow
Now we’re after the people and organisations that can help make this happen at scale. We’re looking for individuals working in social care, those with lived experiences, academics and researchers working at the cutting edge social care research and public, private and voluntary sector organisations working across social care, to support and contribute toward the work as it progresses.
You’ll ultimately be helping to shape provocations and design new propositions for better social care systems of tomorrow.
There are plenty of ways to get involved including:
- Contribute your expertise and knowledge through project events, expert interviews or joining us for a coffee to discuss the work in more detail;
- Become a project champion supporting to spread the work more widely and build a network of people also re-imagining the future of social care;
- Become a project partner and provide critical feedback, expert insight, strategic input and wider project endorsement;
- Become a project sponsor and help extend the project’s reach and impact, leveraging latent opportunities for innovation as they arise.
If you’re someone who can help make this happen and are want to collaborate with us on this journey or to share your ideas, and comment, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
As design director, Robbie Bates is responsible for inspiring creative ambition amongst our teams and clients. He has led over 50 strategic, service and communication design projects across sectors, from digital services to employee engagement programmes. Robbie now directs Uscreates’ ideas and innovation lab, Hatch; supporting people to find new ways to incubate, scale and socialise innovative ideas, strategies, services and products. Alongside his work at Uscreates, Robbie is a lecturer in social design and innovation, delivering talks and workshops nationally and internationally (University of the Arts, Stanford University and University of Applied Sciences).