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HiAP 2018 - Uscreates

Speaking at the Govconnect Health in All Policies conference we have Joanna Choukeir delivering a plenary session on a designing for health equality. Joanna is Design Director at Uscreates. She is a social designer, author, speaker and lecturer with over 15 years of practical experience in the UK, the Middle East and the United States. She leads on the development and delivery of service design, user-centred innovation, design research, service business modelling, communication and digital design projects. Joanna has worked with over 50 public and third sector organisations – such as Nesta, The Healthy London Partnership, the Health Foundation and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust – to help them better understand and address their challenges. She has expertise across a broad range of social challenges including: health and wellbeing, social integration, social action, employment, education and social enterprise. Joanna has a Ph.D. in design for social integration and is an RSA fellow. She is an associate lecturer at the University of the Arts London, Kingston University and Ravensbourne University.

Speaking to Joanna we gathered more information about Uscreates and the topics that will be discussed on the 6th of February.

Uscreates are a design agency based in London that set up in 2005 pioneering a design approach to improve health and wellbeing. They do this by activating change across the social determinants – they understand wellbeing in the broad sense of the word and use this to help design better ways to improve health through education, housing, social networks, employment and more.

Uscreates work with a range of organisations across public, third and private sectors. The best way to describe the scope of their work is ‘from board to ward.’ They are very comfortable working with senior managers and board members to understand the challenges of the organisation and supporting them for change, whilst at the same time really good at getting into the shoes of people and patients to understand their needs.

“I guess what makes us unique is that we put people at the heart to design better services, better ways of working, better experiences and ultimately a better future for them.”

Uscreates recently facilitated a BBC Radio 4 show – The Fix – where they encouraged a diverse group of experts to use a design approach to address complex social issue such as child obesity, alcohol, rehabilitation, and offending. Uscreates also won NHS England’s Health Transformation award in 2017 for their work on childhood obesity with the Healthy London Partnership.

The common thread to how organisations can improve health through a design approach is by having the right mindset:

  • Collaborating with others

  • Deep human understanding

  • Reframing challenges

  • Learning by doing

For example, armed with this mindset, Uscreates are currently working alongside MyTime Active and the Young Foundation to support Tower Hamlets Council to deliver the Communities Driving Change programme. They are co-developing a ground breaking five-year plan. The plan aims to activate local communities to create the conditions they need to thrive. The programme started with data analysis and gathering local stakeholder insights to prioritise neighbourhoods with the highest need and potential. The next stage is to collaborate with a range of stakeholders and residents in the neighbourhoods to co-produce a shared vision and plan for improving health outcomes. The last stage involves empowering and supporting the local communities to put these plans into practice to deliver meaningful and lasting change across the social determinants.

"The reason I say ground breaking is because the programme is place-based, whole-system, community-centred and outcomes-driven. I have never seen anything like this being commissioned anywhere.”

Another consideration when improving health and wellbeing is the role that digital can play. People are already interacting with digital like never before. They do so many of their day to day transactions, and decision making with the support of digital – they check their balance in seconds, they book flights in 5 mins, they buy things online and get them delivered sometimes quicker than it takes to head to the shops and back. So it’s only normal to expect these types of transactions from health services. Booking a GP appointment, having a virtual GP, getting repeat prescriptions online, accessing test results online. But it’s not just about the transactional services. We learn so much through the internet. It’s free knowledge worldwide at our fingertips.  So, as well as digital services providing an opportunity for us to make decisions and transactions quicker, we can also access high quality, tailored knowledge and information through digital to help us better take control of our own and our family’s wellbeing.

So what can delegates expect from them at the conference? Firstly, Uscreates will run a live system mapping activity in the open space, and everyone can join in and help build a better picture of the root causes for health inequality in England. After the conference, Uscreates will create and share a digital version of the co-produced inequalities systems map. Secondly, Uscreates are facilitating a workshop on designing for better health equality through a whole-system but person-centred approach.

If you would like to learn more about Uscreates please visit https://www.wearefuturegov.com/

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