ON THE SAME PAGE
Together with three other classmates, I worked with Sykehjemsetaten, the nursing home administration in Oslo. They wanted help visualizing the moving process that had resulted in response to reforms. We built a communication tool to facilitate the meetings between nursing homes that were exchanging residents and staff.
Our partners hadn't worked with designers before, so we were curious about their experience. What was it like working this way? We wanted their impressions on the non linear process, the uncertain parts of design. We also asked them what they thought about the outcomes and what this might mean for them in the future.
Moving & reforms
2012 reforms called for more efficient and specialized care. This meant all nursing homes with short and long term patients had to become long term, with the exception of four that were turned into "Health houses" for short term stays only.
After two weeks of talking to as many people as we possibly could, we thought we had some great directions for the project. We presented four concepts, which were well received. However, we had misread our partners at sykehjemsetaten. They were not looking for future projects and concept work. They needed help immediately. They were struggling to communicate the effects of the moves to employees, residents, and family members.
City Overview Map
We spent several days in their offices. The map above shows the number and type of patients and employees moving between different homes. The lower line is the timeline of scheduled moves over 16 months. At the bottom right, we added notes about particularly challenging moves, so they wouldn't get lost in the complexity. Their immediate reaction to this map was very positive. They brought it to their annual budget meeting to explain what was going on with this project. At this point we knew there was more we could do with visualization.
Building a communication tool
The first image above shows the first "tool" we made, though that wasn't the intention. In one of their planning meetings, my classmate was sketching their conversation. As soon as someone put their finger on the map, pointing to a specific floor in a ward, the conversation shifted. This is when we realized they needed help communicating not just to other people outside these meetings, but at the table as well. So we got to work making a new tool for them.
We brought the tool to their meetings to see how they would use it. We looked for what worked, what needed tweaking, and what should just be removed. We updated the numbers and changed the layout after each meeting until we found something that worked. We focused on trying to support the flow of conversation that they had, not try to steer them somewhere else.
Before & after
We knew the tool had had an impact by the end of the project. We realized that because we recorded every session, and could hear a difference. Above are clips from two meetings, one before we started prototyping the tool with them, and one at the end of the process.
Warning, for non Norwegian speakers, this video may go (more than) a bit quickly.
These lessons are mostly process focused. I prefer working in this responsive way. When we saw something that needed attention, we redirected our focus. Rather than trying to stay the course and force some tech solution to fit, we just listened. By prototyping with them, we learned much more than we could've in isolated tests. We wanted to respond to what they needed, which was immediate help. A digital tool would've taken far too long to make, and their moving process was already happening. Lastly, it would've been much harder to tell this story without the photos and video and audio.