A Solution to the Home Care Crisis?

January 29, 2015 by · 5 Comments
Filed under: Design and Society, Fellowship, Innovation 

The BBC reported yesterday that spending on care is in down by a fifth.  While this puts a figure on the amount that it’s been cut over the past decade, the fact that home care is in crisis is well known.  Demand is up, money to fund it is down, too few people want to do the work and the way it’s run keeps meaningful, caring relationships from forming between workers and those they care for.

In response, Labour announced this week that if it wins the election it will integrate services ‘from home to hospital’, helping end 15-minute care slots and incentivising providers to improve social care. Not only that, they’ll also provide 5,000 more home care workers and offer all vulnerable older people a safety check.

While this is all good, there’s something not quite right about it – the whiff of advisors sitting round a table shouting out solutions to someone sticking a stack of post-it notes on the wall.  ‘A safety check for everyone’ ‘Free walking sticks for all’ ‘A 1,000 extra homecare workers’ ‘Is that enough?’ ‘Make it 5,000 then’.

Other parties will not be too far behind in their promises, which will be less or more generous, but will all share the same trait.  They will be headline grabbing, with this amount of money pledged or that policy change all that’s needed to make the difference.  It will lack the sense that they’ve thought deeply about the problem and reached a considered response working in partnership with those closest to the issues.

Here at the RSA we’ve been discussing home care rather a lot recently, more specifically a Dutch home care company called Buurtzorg, due to its pioneering organisational model.  It’s a company with 6,500 nurses and 35 back office staff.  Yes, that’s right, 35 back office staff supporting 6,500 frontline staff who in turn look after 60,000 patients a year.

The way they work is to arrange nurses into autonomous units of 12 and let them operate largely as they decide.  A strong IT system not only makes the finance, HR and other central parts of the business easy to use and efficient, it also provides strong social networking to share ideas and help each other solve problems.

This lack of hierarchical management, replaced by self-organisation and increased trust, has turned the traditional hierarchical model on its head.  Care workers decide themselves how to spend their time, choosing to spend more of it with individual clients, building up relationships and trust.  In a study of client satisfaction Buurtzorg came top out of 307 community care organisations.  It turns out to be cost effective too as the model leads to more prevention, a shorter period of care and less spending on overheads.  This is all incredibly impressive.

One of the powerful things about it is that it began with nurses themselves.  Jos de Blok, the founder, is a former nurse who didn’t like the way home care was organised in Holland, which was similar to the way it is currently organised here with very short, timed visits and no allowance for the social side of care or the development of a meaningful relationship between carer and client.

Rather than wait for someone else to fix it he decided to do something about it himself, starting his own organisation with three other nurses in 2006.  There were no special dispensations from Government, no grants to get it off the ground, he competed with everyone else on equal terms and Buurtzorg is now the leading supplier of home care in Holland by a large margin.

Something similar would be fantastic to have here, not only to improve home care in this country, but also to increase staff well-being and to demonstrate that a completely different type of organisation is possible.  You can wait to see if political parties and their pledges can make all the difference, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.  Instead, if you are a Fellow working in this area, I’d love to hear from you to see if we can start a Buurtzorg type revolution ourselves.

Oliver Reichardt is the Director of Fellowship at the RSA
Follow him @OliverReichardt

 

Has the circular economy been relegated to the rubbish bins of Brussels?

January 7, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Design and Society 

It looks increasingly likely that the leadership we have come to expect from Europe in launching our fledgling circular economy is being scuppered by the new masters of Brussels and a contingent of business lobbyists. Just before Christmas, President Jean-Claude Juncker and his deputy Frans Timmermans decided what would be in and what would be out of the Commission’s Work Programme for 2015. And the circular economy, they decided, is out.

Frans Timmermans, Jean-Claude Juncker and Kristalina Georgieva (from left to right)Last summer, a whole package of circular economy measures were announced by outgoing Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik. These included phasing out landfill, increasing household recycling to 70% by 2030 and streamlining a raft of legal requirements, definitions and targets. The measures were welcomed at the time by cities, green groups and some businesses – though several in the zero waste and circular economy communities also warned that they didn’t go far enough, and focused too much on ‘end of pipe’ rather than systemic or design-based solutions.

Now, however, it seems that the entire circular economy package has bitten the dust along with the outgoing Commissioners. In November, business lobbying group BusinessEurope (represented in Britain by the CBI) sent a paper to new Vice-President Timmermans arguing that, along with proposals for a financial transaction tax, increased maternity leave, gender balance on boards and stricter regulation of air pollution, the proposed legislation should be withdrawn. On 16th December BusinessEurope, arbiter of growth and guardian of the free market, got their way, and the package was resigned to the dustbin of history.  Read more

How to… Research and Innovate?

November 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Design and Society, Uncategorized 

How do you know how to approach a brief? How do you do design research? And how do you turn that research into innovation? These are the pressing questions the RSA Student Design Awards tackled with approximately 100 students from across the country as part of our workshop programme over the last few weeks.

As a global curriculum and competition, the RSA Student Design Awards are working to provide increased opportunities for participants to develop new insights and skills to complement their design education. In addition to workshops this year on design innovation (described here), we’ve run workshops on commercial awareness and designing behavior change and our workshop programme is growing.

One of the biggest challenges for designers is not second-guessing the solution before they’ve carried out the research because they want to design a particular product or service or already have an idea in mind.

Our 2014 design innovation workshops, facilitated by Professor Simon Bolton FRSA (an internationally acclaimed designer, innovation consultant and global thought leader for Procter and Gamble as well as Associate Dean for Applied Research and Enterprise at the Faculty of the Arts, Design & Media, Birmingham City University) gave RSA Student Design Awards participants a set of practical tools to help understand a design brief, conduct impactful design research and translate insights into innovative ideas.

Read more

NORTH: The Great Debate

November 3, 2014 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Design and Society 

Guest article by Kasper de Graaf FRSA, producer, NORTH, @kasperdegraaf

NORTH: The Great Debate, organised as part of Design Manchester 14, brought together national and regional leaders of the creative industries, politics and education to discuss how the creative sector can help build “the northern powerhouse” – a vibrant economy across the north of England.

In the week leading up to this debate, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg launched his TechNorth cluster project in Sheffield and the RSA’s City Growth Commission, chaired by Jim O’Neill, projected a £79 billion boost to the UK economy if power is devolved meaningfully. Read more

An Audience with Terence Woodgate, Royal Designer for Industry

October 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Design and Society, Innovation 

‘Designers were considering sustainability before sustainability really existed.’ It wasn’t what I expected to hear from an internationally renowned designer, but then it seems to be the job of designers to defy expectations.

Solid Slide #9

A light from Terence Woodgate’s SOLID range

This particular designer, Terence Woodgate, rose from humble beginnings in North London to become one of the RSA’s Royal Designers for Industry (RDI), the highest accolade for a designer in the UK and acclaimed for his exquisite furniture and lighting. After failing his 11+ and with dyslexia misdiagnosed as lack of aptitude, he was steered towards woodwork and found a niche in technical drawings – and maths. An apprenticeship at Gordon’s gin plant in Clerkenwell found him designing machines to stamp wax crests onto bottles, and was followed by work in the petrochemicals industry and travel in Europe and Asia. It wasn’t until his 30’s that Woodgate trained as a furniture designer.

One of Woodgate’s heroes is the iconic designer Charles Eames, who famously said: ‘I have never been forced to accept compromises but I have willingly accepted constraints’. Woodgate takes this a step further, declaring: ‘You have to be passionate about every constraint’. For him, this includes the material constraints that must be taken into account when designing for reusability or recyclability, and he maintains that it is the job of the designer to know about the whole life cycles of a product’s components. More than anyone, it is the designers of ‘cheap stuff’ who should be thinking about the lifespan of a product: ‘Because those are the first things that are going to be thrown away!’  

‘You have to be passionate about every constraint’

  Read more

The Big Idea: National Saturday Club

Support the UK’s next creative generation

This is a guest blog from the team at National Saturday Club. They’re looking for Fellows in the design, architecture and engineering industries who may be able to offer masterclasses, visits or creative career guidance, as well as Fellows who can introduce young people to their cultural institutions.

The National Art & Design Saturday Club provides young people aged 14-16 with the unique opportunity to study art and design every Saturday morning at their local college or university for free. Now in its sixth year, the Saturday Club runs in 41 locations across the UK, in colleges, universities and at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Read more

Pioneering social innovation in Malaysia

Genovasi Malaysia logoThis blog was originally posted on the news page of the RSA Student Design Awards website on 4th August 2014.

I am pleased to announce that nine emerging Malaysian innovators have won in the inaugural RSA Genovasi Malaysia Awards, winning a range of prizes worth a total of RM260,000. In addition, the winners all receive admission into Genovasi’s Innovation Ambassador Development Programme, complementary RSA Fellowship for a year, providing the students with access to the RSA’s Catalyst Fund and Skills Bank to further develop their projects.

The RSA Student Design Awards team partnered with Genovasi, a transformative learning institution focused on cultivating innovation skills in young people to develop and deliver the RSA Genovasi Malaysia Awards, which launching in September 2013. Genovasi offers a human-centred learning experience to learn and use innovation for social inclusion, active citizenship and personal development for future transferable skills to face challenges in life. The RSA Genovasi Malaysia Awards focused on three project briefs for this pilot year: Active Citizens, Encouraging Social Entrepreneurship, and Citizenship and Communication in a Digital Age.

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Pupil Design Awards: The Winners!

pupil design awards_blog

“His enthusiasm is infectious and his motivation is undeniable. He has worked extremely hard to solve his chosen design problem and has produced a plausible design and concept.  He has worked well with his partner and shown a range of communication skills. Ilyas has developed a confident ability to present and hook the audience or potential buyer with conviction.  Above all I genuinely believe he has thoroughly enjoyed participating and being given an opportunity and chance to shine.”

If you’re a close follower of the RSA twitter account, you will have seen #PowertoCreate splashed all over your news feed this week, thanks to Matthew Taylor’s annual lecture and an ARC Directors Lunch time event.

They have been introducing us to the RSA’s new worldview: “The RSA believes that all should have the freedom and power to turn their ideas into reality”, and if the above quote isn’t an example of the Power to Create in action, I don’t know what is.

These words were written by D&T teacher, Miss Vesey, about Ilyas Mohammed, a year 10 student at Holyhead School in Birmingham, and the first ever winner of the RSA Pupil Design Awards’ Progress Prize.

Inspired by 90 hugely successful years of the RSA Student Design Awards, the programme’s baby sister, the Pupil Design Awards, has just celebrated its first birthday. The pilot project, which we ran across 3 of our RSA Academies, came to an end earlier this week with 20 finalists joining us at 8 John Adam Street for a day of presentations to our esteemed judging panel, a University tour and, most importantly, the handing out of the awards. Read more

Inspire + Innovate: Celebrating the next generation of designers

1. Jony Ive resized

Sir Jonathan Ive RDI

‘This promises to be a life changing experience for you’  - Sir Jonathan Ive, Senior Vice President of Design at Apple and Royal Designer for Industry.

Last month we celebrated  two impressive feats: the 90th anniversary of the RSA Student Design Awards (SDA), and the achievements of the 18 outstanding winning projects from this year’s competition, at our ‘Inspire + Innovate’ event, a memorable evening that recognised the power and necessity of design thinking in a rapidly changing world. Read more

What does a neuroscientist eat for breakfast?

June 26, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Design and Society, Recovery 

In its quest for a more ‘circular economy’, the RSA Great Recovery is focusing on the links between design, materials and waste. Last week, I visited the Science Museum’s new installation on rubbish.

The bowels of the Science Museum are perhaps an appropriate space for an exhibition about waste. You can smell it even before you reach the entrance to the Rubbish Collection. The odour has been somewhat deodorised for public consumption, but the unmistakeable whiff of putrefying food, stale coffee and plasticisers reaches into the stairwell above.

Needless to say it is this ‘pong’ that seems to prevent some visitors from venturing down into the strip-lit atrium, where volunteers in boiler suits and gloves are tipping bags of rubbish onto a row of white tables.

The Rubbish Collection is a project by artist Joshua Sofaer which hopes to change people’s attitudes towards waste by bringing them into close proximity with it. Once an object is brought into a museum, says Sofaer, it is usually imbued with a certain value and afforded a kind of reverence. Not so once it turns to waste, and he is on a mission to involve the public in documenting and examining the museum’s discards over a period of 30 days. Read more

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