Building a resilient set of digital services to make sure people are heard when it matters most.

What we did

  • Digital transformation
  • Content strategy
  • Service design

VoiceAbility support people to be heard in decisions about their health, care and wellbeing. They are one of the UK’s largest providers of advocacy and involvement services.

Until recently, their referral processes were handled manually through paper forms and via their helpline. This involved a heavy reliance on paper-based processes which had to happen while people were in the same physical location. 

Just ahead of the coronavirus pandemic, we worked with VoiceAbility to bring this suite of support tool into an accessible, easy to use and digitally-led service.

voiceability.org

William Joseph’s continued focus on designing a set of digital products that make sense to people at the most difficult of times has created huge value for the organisation.

Rachel Roberts, Marketing & Communications Manager, VoiceAbility

Understanding what people really need

VoiceAbility operate in some of the most complex and testing environments imaginable. From prison services to mental health wards, they support people in decisions about their health and care who would otherwise be completely alone. 

There are countless services that VoiceAbility help people navigate their way through. However, users often do not understand what services are available to them, or how they can receive help. 

By restructuring the advice on the website to be situation-led, users can identify themselves and their context and find out more.

Users are initially queried about their situation rather than specific service requirements.

Making routes into VoiceAbility’s services more efficient

Just documenting how the various services that VoiceAbility offer support for took weeks of hard work. As a complex organisation working across the UK with different partner organisations and local health services, there was no single view of how referrals were handled in each location. While each area was a model of excellence by itself, the overall picture was confused and difficult to navigate. 

Once these services were fully documented, we went about restructuring them so people could access them more easily. The end result is a series of ‘decision trees’, which are presented to users based on their context and the outcome they are trying to achieve. 

The most complex of these journeys takes professionals through a series of eligibility steps to help them refer the person who needs support to the right service. In a significant development from this specialist-led approach, the new website now also allows people to self-refer to some advocacy services, and enables friends and family to get support for their loved ones.

Mapping the VoiceAbility advocacy and involvement service journeys

By developing self-referral routes for NHS complaints advocacy and mental health advocacy in particular, VoiceAbility hope to reduce their overheads by guiding people to the support they are entitled to without having to pick up the phone.

In order to build the form structure, we identified distinct steps and common patterns across the different journeys. By splitting the referral process into three distinct routes we could utilise the right language and tone of voice in each context, to support people to complete each step.

Using language that makes sense to people

In VoiceAbility’s world there are numerous acronyms and professional languages that require a significant amount of experience to understand. This had been a barrier to users accessing their services – they simply did not understand how they could help. 

We redesigned VoiceAbility’s content to simplify as much of this confusing language as possible.

Writing in plain English makes it clear to people where they are in the site.

Putting people’s voices front and centre

For all the amending of language and context-led content, nothing resonates with people more than comments from others in the same situation. As VoiceAbility’s entire mission is to make peoples’ perspectives heard it was clear that these should play a key role in the website.

Each piece of content on the site, is introduced by a quote from a service user, VoiceAbility staff member or relevant stakeholder. This makes clear who the content is for and how it can help.

Leading people through complex services, one step at a time

Once users are in the correct service referral journey, it is important that they are not overwhelmed by the information that is required. Rather than request all the information at once, the process makes clear what will be needed and then asks for it one piece at a time. 

Breaking up complicated process into smaller steps can help reduce cognitive load.

Contextual tips and pointers

Once people are within the advocacy system, they will become experts in their situation. While the new website does not lead with this type of detailed technical content, it still needs to be there. 

Wherever this content is used, guidance is provided through a series of progressively revealed ‘What’s this?’ elements. These streamline the content for professionals, while at the same time guiding those with less knowledge through the content safely.

 Guiding people through services increases completion rates for all audiences, but especially the most vulnerable.

Now, no matter who or where you are, people can access accessible information about our key advocacy services and make a referral online. We are also realising significant efficiencies in the handling of these applications by moving them to a digital-first platform.

Rachel Roberts, Marketing & Communications Manager, VoiceAbility