Christmas Lunch

Ashram logoThe week before Christmas 2013, Niamh and I were given the opportunity to attend a Christmas lunch at the Ashram Cultural Centre at Dudhope Park, Dundee. The Bharatiya Ashram Centre holds events and activities for anyone who wishes to attend, although it is primarily focused towards ethnic minority groups in Dundee, with key aims of education for all, health and wellbeing, and drama and art. A wide range of activities take place Tuesdays – Sundays including Chi Jung, dancing, art classes and English speaking.  Niamh and I were able to interact with the local clients and share stories, while receiving a delicious festive lunch. We were also invited to a party at the end of the lunch in which we got to dance with many of the clients which was fun!

Energy Project

At the Beat the Clock event, and through  phone calls to Healthy Homes, individuals, that our team spoke with, had concerns of being cold during the winter months. Some older people either had broken or faulty boilers or radiators, therefore unable to heat their homes. Another issue was concern regarding the high cost of fuel bills and how to pay them.

My task, therefore, was to research into what Healthy Homes could do to help these people. I wanted to find out about the various Government schemes and how the elderly could find out about this help, as many of our customers do not have access to the internet or may not know about their entitlements. One of my first initial findings was the Warm Home Discount scheme and the Winter Fuel Payment benefit.  Depending on the financial situation and meeting of certain criteria, such as those on pension credit, there may be a possibility of a fuel debt being reduced or written off. As the aim of Healthy Homes is to help older people to remain safe and well at home establishing fuel benefits is an important factor.

There is a replacement boiler scheme available to those on pension credits. For those not on pension credits replacement boilers or repairs will incur a cost. One way forward is to make sure that older people get an up to date financial review to ensure that they are getting all their entitlements. While this is not the scope of Healthy Homes, DEEAP and CAB are just two of the partner agencies that have been working together to make sure that this happens.

While I was working on the energy issues and because of my interest in social inequalities, Alice suggested meeting with Ian Treanor, Senior Energy Advisor for DEEAP at Dundee House. This not only gave me the chance to ask him specific questions about  energy efficiency  and fuel poverty, it also provided further insight into how his team helps  the elderly  through making sure they get their winter fuel allowance.

Beat the Clock Campaign – December 2013

Beat the Clock - Wellgate, Dundee

Beat the Clock – Wellgate, Dundee

Beat the Clock is an established energy community campaign aimed at keeping people warm and well during the winter.  It is run by Dundee Energy Efficiency Advice Project, DEEAP. Beat the Clock campaign provided Healthy Homes with a great opportunity to not only raise awareness of the project, but also to talk to the public and find out what the key issues were that many individual’s were experiencing in their homes at that particular time. Alongside Healthy Homes were the Community Safety team, providing merchandise and information on how to stay safe in your neighbourhood.

Abertay Student Placement

My name is Stacey Dall and I am in my final year of criminology and sociology studies at Abertay University. In September 2013 one of my tutors offered me with a fantastic opportunity to assist Alice and Niamh here at Healthy Homes, which I immediately accepted!

I have been part of the team since October 2013 helping with research into the well-being of the elderly’s homes, creating databases of local traders in the Coldside area of Dundee, researching grants available to the elderly, and foremost, I have been delving deep into the complex topic of energy providers. I have also attended many outings and events to raise the profile of Healthy Homes, such as ‘Beat the Clock’ held in the Wellgate in December 2013, a Christmas dinner I attended with Niamh, held at the Ashram Cultural Centre, and I also enjoyed taking part in the Bingo afternoon in January 2014 held here at Age Concern, Fiveways.

I am thoroughly enjoying my placement with Healthy Homes and I have learned and accomplished many tasks in such a short period of time. Alice and Niamh are also a pleasure to work with, and I could not have achieved what I have without them, and they are so much fun to work with – bonus!

What’s next for Healthy Homes?

IMG_1574 What’s next?

The team are extremely pleased to say that the work done to date for Healthy Homes Project has resulted in the project being rolled out for a second phase! Congratulations to Alice Burns and Lara Moir for securing the next phase and  thanks to all who contributed and those whom we here at Miscits have had the good fortune to work alongside.

Stay tuned for phase two – it’s sure to be exciting!

Post Workshop Learning and Analysis

This phase of the project has seen us pick apart the information we have gleaned throughout our involvement with the Healthy Homes project to date; from people we’ve chatted to at any events or activities as well as insights and input from our workshop participants. We have been pattern finding in this information and comparing and contrasting perceptions, expectations, engagement levels, experiences, quality and satisfaction in relation to Care and Repair service provision in both Coldside and wider Dundee.

We mapped these patterns and split them into themes – Insights, Issues, Ideas and Services. Interestingly, as you can see below, our service users (below right) were not able to identify as many services as our providers, confirming our concerns about awareness, understanding of eligibility and trust.

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So, with all of this learning, we had the bones of a new service requirement – our favourite analogy being that it was now just a case of putting all of the pieces of the puzzle together.

IMG_1326 IMG_1175 Combining participants’ wants/needs.

Key to both users and service providers for future success were:

  • Clear points of contact and information – who can I talk to, how do I reach them and what information can they give me?
  • A community orientated service – something that is both fixed within the local area and mobile.
  • A service where the user is valued – feedback and user input is easy to give and is seen to be taken on board.
  • Services are tailored to suit individuals’ needs and abilities.
  • Linked people or agencies – for information to be shared appropriately between organisations and service providers. Services support other services.
  • Peer to Peer support, the voluntary services and time banking to come to the forefront allowing communities to function sustainably by and for themselves when they can.
  • A simpler referral protocol to be embedded within independent agencies’ practice.

See the document below for a summary of points of action in an ideal customer journey as outlined and directed by workshop participants.


Ultimately what we discovered was that key to this service is not simply the practical repair stuff, but community links, networking, meeting people, pride and ownership. As one participant stated, ‘We want to promote independence not dependence’ – it’s not just about what services can do for you but what you can do for yourself and for your community. Awareness and advertising will also be integral in the next stage of the service model development – if users and by extension, their families, friends and neighbours, don’t know about any of it, they won’t use it.

We met with Alice Burns to discuss our first iterations

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An early suggestion in the project was for that of a brokerage system and so we considered how this might factor in to our findings from users and participants. A brokerage is required to filter, tailor, link and disseminate the correct service information. The role of existing services was discussed at length throughout the Healthy Homes project workshops; could social services act as brokerage between services required; could the referral protocol and service links as made by the Fire Service in home fire safety checks be emulated by other door to door agencies; could voluntary services be utilised to foster trust and understanding on a less formal community based level? But, all considered, these, though fantastic services, do not solely have the capacity to answer all users’ needs. Can great, and in some cases, untapped, local resources be linked up with services such as this to form a new, exciting and engaging service?

IMG_1574What are the core elements?IMG_1335IMG_1366 How are the core elements linked and how do they represent and meet the needs expressed throughout the project?

Watch this space…


Healthy Homes Workshop 2

IMG_1284 More memories of home

Our second workshop at Age Concern in Coldside saw us working with mostly service providers to consider how a new service model might work. We designed the afternoon to, in many ways, reflect our first workshop, where we’d worked for the most part with service users, the plan being to compare and contrast our findings. So we did this but at high speed to accommodate a more in depth service visualisation exercise in the latter part of the session.

We began with our memories of home exercise and learned that service providers’ memories reflected much of the same values as users; safety, security, warmth and comfort.

“Playing houses with my friends in the garage”

“The coal fire and a house full of people to come home to making me feel comfortable, safe and warm.”

“When I was a teenager, I was allowed to decorate my room how I liked so I painted it like the sky.”

And again, we introduced our characters and scenarios activity. The group was smaller than our last workshop so we divided into two teams – the first working on an analysis of one of our characters and the second substituting their character for a newspaper article with a story about a local lady who’d had an accident at home as a result of not seeking or receiving help for repair work in her home. This added further value to our exercise, highlighting the need for changes to be put in motion today to prevent such incidents.

IMG_1269IMG_1277 Discussing key issues/opportunities

We were excited to discover that the service providers were suggesting similar solutions as we’d discussed the week previous at the first workshop; peer to peer support, social groups and existing networks, targeted sign posting and community directed support and advice. So what services could meet their ‘character’s’ needs? Our participants worked, too, through our future services activity to consider –

What does the service do?

Who is involved?

How will it work?

Why is it needed?

Where and When will it happen?

IMG_1278 IMG_1274User centred service planning

Participants’ ideas for their characters:

‘A one stop shop where customers can be sign posted towards advocates and market comparison of independent service providers with technical expertise to carry out repairs in their home. It will operate from within the community and be timetabled to be in variant localities to meet with users.’

‘Local peer to peer support will allow customers and clients to learn from one another’s knowledge and experience of using care and repair services and to have access to a feedback loop.’

Common themes discovered when comparing these ideas with our first workshop groups’ included; community as well as individual orientated services, on going dialogue and feedback post service delivery, mobile and door to door service and the utilisation of existing services in new ways.

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Our final activity was to map in more depth an ideal customer service journey for one of the ideas constructed throughout the session. This was framed in the customer view by actions, experiences and expectations Before, During and After the service provision.

IMG_1292 IMG_1302 One Stop Shop journey concept

This last exercise was particularly fruitful, helping to consider the steps of potential implementation – logistics, role allocation, staffing, service touch points, monitoring and strategy. And indeed, we learned a great deal through discussions over this activity, what resources were available or could be adapted to suit new provision methods. All of this will feed back into our job for the next couple of weeks in the analysis, comparison and building of a model that reflects our experts’ experience, views and ideas – the service users and providers.

Thanks to all who attended and gave their invaluable input – any new service model(s) that emerge from this stage of the project are down to your expert knowledge and experience. Stay tuned, it will be good!

Healthy Homes Workshop One

On Friday 8th March, Miscits, Sharyn Farnan and Alice Burns met with older people and service providers at Age Concern in Coldside to work through a range of designed activities that would help direct and inform the building of a new Care and Repair service model. We were joined by Master of Design for Services students, Claire Abraham and Alex Ioannou – thanks to both for their invaluable insight as participants within our activities.

IMG_1142 IMG_1143Tell us a memory of your home

“Happy, safe, cosy, comfortable. A family meeting place.”

“A house full of people there to welcome me when I come home from a hard day at work!”

“Happy memories, full of laughter, home cooking, coal fire and board games.”

We began with this activity aimed at contextualising the afternoon; thinking about what our homes mean to us, what’s important and how to maintain these things for the better? What we learned from this is that all of us, irrespective of our ages, want to feel comfortable, safe and secure in our homes. This activity also acted as a way of introducing ourselves to one another.

image image[2] Meet Jane…

We then asked – what if these basic wants and needs from our homes are compromised? Using character cards based on people who have spoken to the Healthy Homes team, we outlined stories and scenarios for our participants to discuss and analyse in smaller groups  – what issues are affecting this person, how do they feel and what or who could help?

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By way of this activity, we very quickly gleaned insight into ‘ideal’ scenarios for the better from the point of view of users and customers, with our participants suggesting everything from peer support to a Home M.O.T as solutions for our characters’ problems.

Some key issues, insights and ideas from this session are detailed in these photos:

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Our groups were then posed the challenge of designing a new service to help their characters- one that either utilised existing services that they were aware of, in a new way, or the creation of an entirely new service altogether.

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Some exciting ideas were proposed;

’24 Hour emergency helpline – advice and support in the case of home care and repair emergencies. Free to all, this service would be run by qualified advisors with backgrounds in healthcare and social work as well as by legal and benefit advisors and volunteers. The service would be supported by a central office as well as a mobile service to target high density areas to provide support, educate and improve public awareness and benefit the ageing population.’

‘Pre and post retirement course that focuses on aiding people in the navigation of services that they might need to access in the future and encourages users to shape these services as they learn about and use them. The course could be delivered with and by the DWP and promoted in the workplace and via workplace newsletters.’

‘Central phone line to connect people who need small repairs and house hold jobs done with skilled local service providers. This would be led by volunteers, retirees and people who are unemployed in the local community to give their neighbours confidence in their recommendations and deal with emergencies in their locality.’

These ideas are great – scalable, user centred and can utilise the resources, groups and organisations already doing positive work in Dundee. But what would they look like? We asked our groups to do a quick doodle or use craft materials to explain their service. Our groups were up against the clock but produced some brilliant diagrams that contextualised their ideas very well. We, from a service design point of view, were able, from these, to understand perspective, what was considered a priority in accordance with their experience and knowledge of using care and repair services and what an ideal service journey would be. Food for thought and a wonderful session.

IMG_1231 IMG_1228 2 IMG_1224  IMG_1220 IMG_1215 What our services could look like

Thanks to all who participated- it was great to meet and talk with you all again! We are taking all of your ideas, insights and suggestions in to account to benefit the next stage of the project – building a service model that reflects both users and providers wants and needs.


Carer’s Lunch and Coldside Parish Church

image image[2]Meeting members of Carer’s Lunch Club

Miscits and associate designer, Sharyn Farnan, took some of our design sheets to Dundee Carer’s Club Lunch and Coldside Parish Church, where we met with a number of lovely locals to chat about their homes and how they manage any small care and repair tasks. We found here, that the members of the lunch club and the church congregation most appreciated having the project brought to them, in their own community groups. We were made to feel most welcome by them and are pleased to report that a good number of their members attended our first Healthy Homes workshop last week – thanks to them for coming; their input was incredibly valuable!

Key points raised by these groups as to what’s important to them in maintaining and caring for their homes:

*Being able to rely on neighbours for odd jobs and recommending trusted services if unable to do job independently

*Worries about ‘being conned’ by service providers who approach them – one person had been charged £350 in the past by a plumber to effectively fix a dripping tap!

*A fixed point of contact (e.g. a telephone help line) to direct and support them as they look for traders to employ