Lewisham health and social care directory

Understanding how residents and professionals in Lewisham seek information around health and social care issues.

Read more about it below

The brief

Lewisham Council were tasked with understanding how its residents and professionals in the area seek information around health and social care issues. A high volume of calls to the Lewisham Social Care Advice & Information Team (SCAIT) meant that council services were stretched, as most of the information sought from SCAIT can be found online through the Lewisham Health and Social Care Directory.

Lewisham Council commissioned Social Change UK to undertake user research to understand what the needs and requirements are of its target audience, and how the existing directory could be improved. As part of the research, Lewisham Council wanted to understand the existing customer journeys people undertake when searching for information online. The insight would then translate into practical recommendations for Lewisham Council to implement in redesigning digital products to enhance the user experience.


What we did

Initial scoping research was undertaken to explore the directory and its functionality, alongside exploring similar directories from other local authorities to see how they had been designed and what aspects we could test as part of this research. As part of the scoping work, we reviewed existing data to understand how people were using the existing directory to help guide discussions, tasks and activities in the user research.

Following the scoping phase, we conducted qualitative user research with the target audience across two phases; a discovery phase which explored customer needs and wants through focus groups and a mystery shopping phase exploring how digital is used in searching for health and social care information across scenarios.

Three participant groups were identified by Lewisham Council as residents, residents with health and social care needs and health and care professionals.

During the discovery phase, we wanted to establish what the audience needs and wants were, their existing health information seeking behaviour and what an ideal online resource should look like. In addition to these areas, we conducted rapid user testing by providing participants with the opportunity to use the existing health and social care directory, capturing initial responses on user interface, expectations and functionality.

The mystery shopping phase built on the insight captured through the focus groups and scoping research. We designed multiple scenarios that required participants to search for suitable information across both preferred digital methods (such as using search engines) and through the directory. Participants were tasked with finding information on 2-3 scenarios across both methods of searching for information. We facilitated this exercise via screen sharing in order to view the participant customer journey, as well as interviewing them across the process to capture their cognitive process and decision making.

A short survey was also used to engage with health and care professionals at a wider level to capture their feedback on the current directory and understanding how it could be improved.


What we found

Overall, we found that there was room for development across both website interface and functionality. Participants across all groups provided consistent feedback and responses around the improvement of the directory.

By mapping out the customer journeys, we were able to identify key areas where participants were likely to drop off when using the directory, as well as why. We used this insight to put forward practical recommendations on how users can be kept engaged based on the insight provided.

One of the challenges we came across revolved around accessibility; these covered areas such as the language used, lack of imagery and filter functions. The insight highlighted a disconnect between how participants expected the directory to work and how it currently operates.

Participants raised the challenge of immediate responses as they would often want this as a form of reassurance. The insight also highlighted scope for including further digital solutions to the directory, such as a chatbot function, which would provide appropriate responses to participants based on their enquiry input.

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