Why I am not a Service Designer

dementia Diary workshop 1

At the best of times it can be a challenge explaining to people what you do. But when they already have a perception of what you do..?!

I’ve been a designer for a long time. A Graphic Designer. To many I will probably be a Graphic Designer until the day… well, you get the idea.

I’m a Designer still. But of a kind that many haven’t heard of. For you lucky people that’s about to change.
I work in Service Design.

PostIts workshop 1

Perhaps (mildly) controversially I’m going to say that I’m NOT a ‘Service Designer‘. That’s because I’m not sure that there is any such thing. Service Design (to me) is a collaboration between the designer (equipped with the tools and methods of design thinking), and the professional (armed with expert knowledge of their field, service or system – e.g. Social Services, Education, Health Care).

Within the collaboration my role is that of facilitator. I bring tools and methods that will facilitate the drawing out (pun intended) of ideas and visualisations to innovate, improve or completely change existing methods of working.

Maybe within that process we’re ALL service designers – what a utopia that would be!
On the outside, however, I’m just a designer, doing what I’ve always done – but with a new bag of fancy pencils.

Although the principles that hold Service Design together have been around for a while, the idea of designers doing something this useful still appears to shock. But if ever we needed proof that SD was edging into the mainstream, we find that even the BBC are in on it. Radio Four‘s ‘In Business had a programme dedicated to Design Thinking and how it is being applied to designing public services. It’s a very good overview and well worth a listen.

BBC 4 In Business

Conveniently there is also a new web platform around the idea of helping the general public understand what Service Design is and how businesses and public services can benefit from implementing its methods. Tereza Procházková recently graduated from Dundee University‘s Masters of Design for Services course at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design – Translating Service Design is her Masters project where she has taken the novel idea of creating short videos to introduce some of the concepts and methods of, you guessed it, Service Design.

So, expect to see Service Design installed into your place of work anytime soon! Well, maybe the next couple of years anyway.
Do you see Service Design solving issues for your workplace? Do you have ‘Service Designer‘ written on your business card and want your money back?
Tell me what you think…

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During the last two years Jon Gill has worked as a designer with public service organisations such as Dundee City Council, The Young Foundation, People Can and the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) – not on posters and leaflets or physical products, but on services. Services such as delivery of services to homeless people in Westminster and Hackney, Public Consultation on Council Housing in Dundee and piloting new Social Service ideas for SSSC across Scotland (Borders Council, Moray Council, Alzheimer Scotland).

Dementia Diary meet Memory Box

I Met with Memory Box originator Scott Downie this week.

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It was after tweeting progress of a workshop at Alzheimer’s Scotland a few weeks ago that I received a message from Scott informing me of Memory Box and that we should talk.

My workshop was focussed on Dementia Diary, an idea formulated through the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) Workforce Of The Future Challenge (partnered with IRISS). It investigates the use of video as a tool for supporting people living with Dementia or Alzheimer’s, their families and their carers.

dementia storyboard 1

Here’s a short video of one of our suggested uses:

The idea is currently in the pilot development stage and about to be trialled by Alzheimer’s and Dementia Key workers in Glasgow and the Borders.

So far we have built on the premise that Dementia Diary is an umbrella name for the preliminary idea of using video in this context. How it is adopted, modified or evolved is down to the authority, organisation or individual. From there they can call it what they like!

So what’s with Memory Box?
What Memory Box presents is a possible framework within which ‘a’ Dementia Diary could exist for some people. If offers secure access to your own or web sourced content (images, video, music, maps, etc) designed to be specific to the user’s profile. That profile would contain key information: locations of interest (home, holiday), family, hobbies, likes/dislikes, etc…

Memory Box can be managed by carers or family members and is no more complicated that your average CMS system or Facebook! It builds on the foundations and principles of Reminiscence Therapy (RT). While RT has been around for several decades the research into is relatively new but significant enough to put weight behind Memory Box. Used in conjunction with a gathering of two or more people Memory Box sparks meaningful conversations. Not only that but it helps bridge the generation gap of grandparents and young people who don’t know where to start conversations (I saw evidence of this when I did this project.)

This begs the question, should we be waiting for our elderly loved ones to be developing Dementia before we engage with a tool such as this?

Currently being tested and independently evaluated in a selection of care environments Memory Box is due to be launched early in 2014.

You can find out more about the product and the charity behind it at memoryboxnetwork.org