Weeknotes 6th January 2023

Rochelle Gold
4 min readJan 9, 2023

Back to work and to weeknotes for this short working week. I was straight into an urgent ask involving multiple delivery areas of the organisation that soon filled all the beautiful looking gaps in my diary and triple booked me many times. I started some healthy habits during my 2 weeks leave and my intent is to ensure that this work does not scupper them and I continue to make time to look after myself. I can’t look after my work without looking after me.

Things this week that helped to make a difference

I had 2 separate meetings with colleagues from across NHS England who I had not met before. Both were new to working in a user centred design way and I helped them to think through what they needed to do to apply it in their area. My experience of working with people with a health care background is that a user centric mindset is all part of how and why they work in their field. They might not call it that, but keeping people and their needs at the heart of the care you provide is central to working in the NHS. It isn’t a huge leap to take that thinking and apply your UCD mindset to project, product, pathway, policy, tech delivery etc. The conversations I had helped those colleagues to confidently understand what that looked like in the context of the work they were doing and gave me insight into areas of the organisation I hadn’t encountered before.

I also got together with colleagues working on a new urgent ask, connected people so that they could quickly get up to speed and get access to information they need and made sure that people who need to be sighted on what is happening were brought into it.

I attended one of sub-directorate’s all colleague meetings to talk about user centred design in the context of our user research lab, but also the value of what our user researchers do and how they do it. This helped this area of the organisation’s understanding but also supported the user centred design colleagues in that area who are a newly establishing capability. What I said should make doors in that area easier to open for my user centred design colleagues.

I met with a colleague that was struggling with a work issue to provide support and ensure they knew they also have it throughout the process of dealing with the issue.

In my voluntary work, I have supported 4 people this week at different stages of awareness about their BRCA mutation status, from considering testing to preventative surgery. I have also been working with other 3rd sector orgs to support the people leading the launch of community testing for the BRCA mutation later this month — something that has huge potential to save lives and prevent cancer.

What do I need to do to make more of a difference

I have been reflecting on my work objectives and what key areas I’m going to focus on. My current focus is

  • Inclusive design
  • Building UCD capability including UCD maturity
  • Developing people and UCD skills

One thing that seems to be difficult is deciphering the value of talking about UCD as a whole and as separate specialisms that work together to deliver greater value. Do you diminish the value of design, user research and content by talking about them as one, or does it provide strength? My specialism is user research, but I can lead many other things including UCD as I have a breadth of knowledge and some brilliant and experienced specialists to work with who have deep knowledge. Does the term UCD cause more confusion than clarity? Is talking about ‘user centred design’ a barrier to understanding it? Is it clearer to talk about the component parts of design, user research and content or does that also confuse and/or exclude people too? Is this all related to user centred maturity and mindset?

Amongst all the BRCA preventative work I have been doing there are also people who haven’t been lucky enough to have the opportunity to be tested in time to prevent cancer and one in particular, who I have known all my life, who is now at too late a stage for any further treatment. I know that there are points in their cancer journey at which knowing their BRCA status could potentially have saved them. At those points, I didn’t know what I know now, or even the existence of the BRCA mutation, but I still struggle with the ‘what ifs’. What if I had known about this mutation then? What if I had raised awareness then? Would I have been able to prevent this? It is the same thoughts I have about my mum’s cancer. I know the next few weeks are going to be triggering for me so have put strategies in place to make sure I have the space to process it all.

Next week

  • Priority will be working with colleagues to respond to the urgent ask. This will most likely take up much of my time next week
  • Kicking off the next phase of our inclusive design work

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Rochelle Gold

Head of User Research and User Centred Design @NHS England (formerly NHS Digital). Views my own.