Making Methods Matter
In my last blog post, I spoke about why service design is the right discipline to tackle the problems of Young Carers in the UK. In between then and now, I have been exploring the subject in further detail, reading up relevant literature, putting myself in a better position to comment on how I plan to go about my major project. In this blog post, I will demonstrate how service design methodology can be applied to help tackle the complex social issue of young carers.
Given the highly context-driven and specific nature of the subject, I plan to apply the Design Practice Methodology to my process (Figure 1), as illustrated by the framework of interaction design (Fallman, 2008). This practice-based approach will help me gain knowledge about the lives of Young Carers and approach the problem with a well-defined research question or How Might We statement that will inform my project further. To do so, I will follow the traditional service design methodology, and I envision this project to be implemented using the Double Diamond framework by the Design Council (Design Council, no date) in the stages Discover, Define, Develop and Deliver (Figure 2). However, I realise that this process is not linear and will have to accommodate for iterations throughout.
As the focus is on the lives of marginalised groups — the young carers, this methodology will provide a systematic approach to discovering the lives of these young children from different social, political, economic, and cultural lenses. I hope that these varied perspectives will enable me to study the implications of each on the wellbeing of young carers and their families. To understand the care system and complex landscape, I will begin the discovery phase by conducting interviews with experts and professionals in the care sector who have had previous experience working with young carers. The insights gained from these interviews will inform my approach to further qualitative interviews with the primary users — the young carers and secondary users — cared-for family members, friends, school teachers, and family workers. A combination of these interviews will form the basis of qualitative research, adding value to quantitative evidence obtained from secondary sources, helping me understand better the needs of young carers, their families, and the support system surrounding them.
These conversations will then inform my way forward in the project — mapping out the journeys of these different stakeholders, detailing out the key problem and opportunity areas, and defining a specific research question that will be central to the outcome of the project.
In this phase, I plan to conduct co-design workshops with the relevant stakeholders to build design interventions informed by the needs of the young carers. I am aware that young carers are a vulnerable group, and direct access might be difficult. Hence, it will be necessary to get permissions and ethical approvals from the university and potential partners beforehand to conduct any participatory design activities. Creative ways of engaging the users could be through potential volunteering opportunities with young carer organisations and local projects. These could be used as anchors to engage with young carer families and family workers alongside the young children and help recruit participants for co-design workshops to develop new ways of delivering effective and impactful support to young carers and their families. In case of less or no direct access to young carers, I plan to engage ex-young carers who can bring similar comprehensive insights from their firsthand experiences.
Testing and iterating these new propositions with the support systems of young carers will help deliver a refined and holistic approach to my research question and find the answer to what good care looks like for young carers.
Fallman, D. (2008). The interaction design research triangle of design practice, design studies and design exploration. Design Issues, 24(3), 4–18. Available at: https://direct.mit.edu/desi/article/24/3/4/60187/The-Interaction-Design-Research-Triangle-of-Design
Design Council (no date) What is the framework for innovation? Design Council’s evolved Double Diamond. https://www.designcouncil.org.uk/news-opinion/what-framework-innova-tion-design-councils-evolved-double-diamond