This project explored and co-created a series of possible scenarios for care at home in Scotland based on trends from the present. Using a speculative design approach, I supported care providers and frontline staff to look into objects, technologies, and ideas which might impact the sector.
Design methods offered a way to integrate diverse perspectives, transform challenges into areas of opportunity, and make tangible how care at home could change. The approach and outcomes aim to build capacity and enable Scottish Care to continue this conversation by engaging a wider audience to collectively shape and progress a preferable vision for care at home in Scotland.
My team and I used desk research, sense checking workshops, and ethnography to understand the current landscape of care at home and its immediate challenges. These challenges are well-known and increasing. There is a need for more funding, more recognition for care staff, and for a shift towards a preventative, relationship-based and personalised model of care that will support people to live independently for longer and lead to better outcomes for those being supported. Work to date has focussed on identifying the challenges and underlying principles that will enable this shift, however what is missing from these discussions is a creative and dynamic approach towards communicating and illustrating a vision for care at home in a more tangible way and to involve key stakeholders, care at home providers and frontline staff, in the process of re-imagining a better future.
The next step was to design and facilitate a series of workshops with care experts, managers, and frontline staff. Using a combination of speculative design and co-design methods, these workshops encouraged participants to collaborate and imagine possible futures for care at home. We later iterated and improved the design tools used in the workshops. They became part of a toolbox for further exploration, together with the insights and questions gathered during the project.
The outcome was a set of design tools based on insights from the co-design workshops. Many of these tools and activities were tested in the workshops and iterated. They now support Scottish Care to engage a wider audience and explore how the sector might prepare for future possibilities and future users. They offer a way to critically engage with the “not yet”, considering opportunities and challenges, and opening up new questions and debate on future directions. The toolbox contains a deck of future trend cards, ʻWhat Ifʼ cards and ʻFuture Staffʼ cards. Three ʻTarot Boardsʼ act as a guide of different ways to use the sets of cards and offer the opportunity for supported exploration. The ʻTarot boardsʼ support people to be actively involved in imagining and shaping the future of care at home by exploring some radical possibilities of tomorrow, for example the use of A.I in the social care sector and other societal and cultural shifts captured in the future trend cards and by engaging in ʻWhat Ifʼ questions on possible scenarios for care at home. The ʻFuture Staffʼ cards present three different future roles for the care at home workforce and invite participants to imagine how these future roles might interact in a fictional scenario and stimulate conversations and ideas for preferable future roles and ways of working. The speculative care staff was also presented as a pop up and received positive feedback from students and the public.
A series of emerging themes from the project overall and a set of ʻwhat nextʼ suggestions and recommendations were developed to bring together research and speculation as evidenced and actionable design recommendations. The recommendations offer ideas for what can be achieved in the short (now), medium (near future) and long term (far future) and are intended to support further conversation and action around how the outcomes from the project can be taken forward. Recommendations include: sharing good stories of care, forecasting care at home needs, matchmaking available technology with current needs, exploring and developing the future care at home workforce and exploring new collaborations. The recommendations suggest next steps to build on the emerging ideas but also indicate where ideas are aligned to, and could support, national workforce planning.
It takes a very unique set of skills and a distinctively open and empathic personality to do the work that you do in an area of particular sensitivity. Your humanity, quiet aptitude and affirming positivity and presence were a huge asset.
It is really interesting to think of how social care could become an attractive career for future generations who will be looking for more face-to-face jobs in a world where everything will become more mediated by technology.
I really like how in these future care roles, technology is used as a support which enhances human relationships and creates more time for the carer to spend with the person while the robot does functional, dull tasks.
I teach at a university and we have graduates in digital sociology, data science, and product design. Often they do not feel inspired by the sectors traditionally hiring these graduates. We would love for both our students and employers to think creatively like this about where to apply their skills.