30th August to 10th September

Some of the things I have been doing

Amy and I met with the chief exec about the inclusive design practice site that a number of colleagues have been working hard on. Both he and the exec directors on the call were supportive and we got agreement that we needed to ensure that it is funded so it can continue to be developed.

Clara, Amy and I spoke to our product development senior leadership team about the equity and inclusion work we recently completed and what we need to do to do better. This starts with my commitment to making sure we continue to run power and privilege training and I have put the wheels in motion to make this happen. Clara and Amy were both amazing in the meeting both in terms of their presentation, honesty and their challenge of senior leaders. Equity and inclusion work is hard and underfunded (if funded at all). We should all commit to changing that and that commitment needs to have budget behind it. I plan to put some of mine behind it.

I had a check in with the team who are supporting the further development and testing of our service maturity model and tools. I also caught up with colleagues in our data directorate who were keen to know more about the work and how they could apply it in their area. On Friday the team delivered a show and tell on the work so far. It was great to see not only the amount of people that attended but also the variety of people — some were UCD colleagues but the majority were not and the audience included colleagues working in project management, risk management, strategy, engineering, product as well as exec directors and commissioners. When we talk about service design, we talk about how we work as collaborative multidisciplinary teams to design and deliver a service for everyone that interacts with it. The model is likely to be of most use to people who work in roles other than user centred design so their involvement in the design and their attendance at the show and tell is pretty important to have.

I had a planning session with Tero to look at our objectives for UCD in the coming year and to plan the implementation of the UCD strategy we have been developing.

I took part in an NHS Digital initiative called ‘Coffee with a Clinician’ where I met with one of our clinical colleagues for a 30 minute chat about our work. My virtual coffee was with one of the pharmacists who assured work on live services and the parallels between our day to day lives and perspectives was immediately apparent. Both our roles are focussed on ensuring that what we deliver facilitates rather than blocks access to safe care and our involvement early enough in the process to manage risk is essential. ‘Coffee with a…’ is a great way for people across large organisations to understand more about each others roles, meet people they do not normally work with and support collaborative working, particularly when we are not office based. I have another set up for next week and would thoroughly recommend it.

I had a couple of conversations about professionalisation of UCD in health including training and certification and standardisation of job descriptions and banding. I spent many a joyous month a few years ago, matching NHS Agenda for Change job evaluation criteria to DDAT role profiles and grades and SFIA competencies to create our user research job descriptions and taking them through the job evaluation process. My design, content, product and delivery colleagues went through this challenge too. I am doing what I can to save others from this delightful experience and sharing what we have for them to build on.

It is great to see people thinking about and investing in how we can support the health and care system to develop understanding of user-centred design. Whilst this won’t train someone to be a user researcher, it will help user research and UCD be embedded into the ways of working within the system and mean that our specialists can focus on delivering user research, design and content. Often half of a user researcher, designer or content designer’s time is spent helping others to learn about UCD, its value and the risk of not having it.

What made me think

This time of year is a hard one for me as my mum passed away around now, 6 years ago. I have been thinking a lot about that and about her and about what’s important to prioritise in life.

Slightly related to this is the lack of recent public weeknotes from me. I have been struggling to write them by the time I finish my working week. Over the past few weeks I have given myself permission to just not do them rather than have them hanging over me during my time off work. This means that my weeknotes might be weekly, they might be fortnightly, they might be monthly but there will be some at some point.

What I am doing over the next week or so

· Service design maturity team check ins and retro

· Product development strategy implementation board

· Another coffee with a clinician

· Sharing our UCD strategy with the community

· Recruitment campaign kick off

· Steering group for UCD as a profession in the NHS

· Steering committee meeting as part of my voluntary work for the BRCA-Direct trial

· Some time away with my family

Head of User Research @NHS Digital. Views my own.