As a Deputy Director in the Japanese Government with backgrounds in legislation and public management, I have worked with central and local governments on public sector reform projects. Incorporating this experience with design skills achieved in the RCA, I would like to contribute to public innovation.
Design x Policymaking
The use of design approach for policymaking and service delivery in the government has become a worldwide trend. An increasing number of governments are or envisage using design approaches to deal with ‘wicked’ problems they face and to co-create interventions in collaboration with the governments, private sector, civil society representatives, third sector organisations and citizens.
On the other hand, the number of design practitioners in government is still limited, and the number of people who can translate between design discipline and public administrations is very limited. As I see the potential for public innovation in design, I hold two master's degrees, one in public policy and one in design, to not only put design into practice in public policy making, but also to play a role in bridging the two worlds.
The role of unpaid carers – who looks after family members, friends or neighbours because of their ageing, long-term illness or disabilities – is essential not only for those being cared for but also for the society, but unfortunately this fact is not being fairly valued or well-recognised. Being an unpaid carer is a full-time job, involving a lot of emotional and physical stress, and many carers feel unsupported. This project explored what kind of service we can create that by orchestrating community resources and fostering cross-sectoral collaboration can help support unpaid carers.
Who is "Unpaid carer"?
Are you an “unpaid carer” who looks after family members, friends or neighbours because of their ageing, long-term illness or disabilities without getting paid?
There are 13 million unpaid carers in the UK providing invaluable support for their loved-ones. It is estimated that 1 in 3 of us will be an unpaid carer at some point in our lives.
What is Mobilise?
Looking after a loved-one is invaluable, but it can also be hard.
For those who are taking care of your loved-ones, Mobilise is the platform that supports your love-based choice of taking up such a precious role by providing “a little mind space” in caring life through integrated personalised services, peer-, professional- and family-supports, and carer-centred onboarding mechanism.
Unlike the present scattered and disconnected services, Mobilise provides seamless onboarding experience and personalised services for unpaid carers through community-based cross-sectoral collaboration.
Carers find it difficult to look after themselves
Looking after oneself is always beneficial for mental wellbeing, but our in-depth interviews revealed that it is challenging for people with caring roles to take time to do that. One carer described her life as if she was running on a hamster-wheel.
Because of their love for their loved-ones, people with caring roles tend to devote themselves so much when looking after the cared-for person, and prioritise caring responsibilities over their own wellbeing, which not only harms their mental health, but also puts their loved-ones at risk.
How Mobilise can help?
Mobilise makes caring activities easier by providing integrated services to find and manage information. It also provides the environment to easily and confidently receive help by other carers and family members. Not only can Mobilise squeeze their caring activities to create space, but also creates opportunities and environments to nudge carers to have their own space.
Challenge of self-recognition as a carer
A huge challenge for supporting carers is that they don’t reach out to carer-support until they recognise themselves as a carer. We found that most people don’t think of themselves as a carer, but as a partner, a parent, a child, a friend or a neighbour.
It is said that it takes up to two years of their caring role before they even recognise their additional responsibilities. As a result, what typically happens is that when the carers reach out to carer-support, they are already reaching very close to the crisis point.
What Mobilise can do?
Mobilise changes the situation itself where carers need to think of themselves as a carer to get support by integrating patient-support services within the platform. Through using the services to support their loved-ones, carers can start using the carer-support service without a self-recognition of being a carer, which helps them care for their loved ones better in the long run.
Gap between carer-support & patient-support
During the research, we figured out that there are gaps between the carer-support sector and other healthcare and social care sectors in a sense that the main focus of the carer-support service providers is carer, and that of the health and social care service providers is cared-for. Carers behind the cared-for person often feel neglected by the healthcare sector, even though carers are the one contacting them in most cases.
Carer-centric that fills the gap
By putting carers at the centre, we integrated services from these two sectors together on the same platform, so that carers do not have to wander around in the flood of information that is scattered around.
Redesign the agency
The platform is aimed at creating “a little mind space” for carers, but it does not stop there. The bigger objective for the project is to redesign the agency of people with caring responsibility.
We heard many stories from carers that they want to pursue their individual goals whether in their academic achievements, professional ambitions, or hobbies that they are good at, but they had to put them on hold because of the additional caring responsibility.
“Carer” should not be a label, a name of a person, nor a category of the population. “Caring” is a role that everyone might take up in our lives, which has a significant impact on every other aspect of life.
Through this platform, we would like to support their love-based choice of taking up such a precious role and assist them in pursuing their life.
Yi-Tzu Chang (MA Service Design).
Special thanks to:
Angélique, Anna, Annie, Brian, Caroline, and Robert
I would like to thank all the carers for their tremendous contribution to my design journey, my project partner Mobilise and Camden Carers for their continual support, and my personal and project tutor Nicolas Rebolledo-Bustamante.