28,000 Personal Support Workers provide homecare to 730,000 Ontarians every year. This according to VanderBent, the CEO of Home Care Ontario is not enough. Also, the lack of funds means home-care visit times are reduced from hours to 30 minutes, sometimes even 15 minutes. Moreover, 3.3 million of people living in Ontario are family caregivers, spending around 11 hours on average in providing care along with separate employment.
First things first, I will be talking about Personal Support Workers (PSW) and Caregivers in this case study a lot. Hence, it is imperative that the difference between them is explained in the beginning.
Caregiver — are friends or family who offer ongoing personal, social, psychological and physical support, assistance and care, without pay, for loved ones in need of support due to frailty, illness, degenerative disease, physical/cognitive/mental disability, or end of life circumstances.
Personal Support Worker— They are professionals who help in a long-term care facility, supportive housing, personal homes, adult daycare and palliative care.
WHAT IS AYD CARES
We were introduced to the project of creating a responsive web design for Ayd Cares. Ayd Cares is the largest and most trusted home care network in Canada. Through their platform, a client (caregiver) can coordinate and communicate with a PSW to manage care, wellness and improve quality of care for their loved ones. In addition, it empowers caregivers and PSWby offering the flexibility to manage care in a safe and convenient way. AYD Cares has access to the largest network of PSWs in Ontario.
UNDERSTANDING THE CHALLENGE
Our client, the CEO and founder of Ayd Cares came to us with a problem. Ayd Cares was built on the idea that there is an influx of PSWs in space, however, they are under pressure and leaving the profession because of the fact that they are not paid according to the hours worked and the career is not sustainable. In order for it to be sustainable, someone had to support their professional growth which is where Ayd Cares saw the opportunity.
After a thorough meeting with the client, we agreed upon a solution for Ayd Cares. We decided to help him out by building a responsive website that can clearly define the difference between a caregiver and a PSW, educate and inform them about the needs, empower them and encourage them to use the platform.
As one of the UX Designers in this project, I was responsible for conducting the research, collection of data, creating personas, creating a user flow, sketching out ideas, designing low-fidelity, mid-fidelity and some high-fidelity wireframes, prototyping, and usability testing in a three-week-long sprint.
For this project, we used the human-centered design approach, which is a creative way to problem-solving that starts with people and ends with innovative solutions that are tailor-made to suit their needs.
“When you understand the people you’re trying to reach — and then design from their perspective — not only will you arrive at unexpected answers, but you’ll come up with ideas that they’ll embrace.” — IDEO.org
OBSERVATION: User Research
The first phase was all about learning and understanding the users and being open to opportunities. Since we were creating the website from scratch, the research started from online surveys. In order to understand the PSW and caregiver perspectives, the survey was designed separately for both. Canada does have a huge community of PSW, and it was fairly easy for us to obtain the data using the survey which was deployed on PSW Facebook groups, Reddit and emailing client’s contacts.
…there was one hurdle!
We realized that the terms PSW and Caregiver are used interchangeably and what caregiver meant to us did not actually mean the same for the other people. For them a PSW and a caregiver was the same thing. Therefore, it was really challenging for us to find primary data related to caregivers. We tried our best deploying the caregiver survey to different social media platforms, however, the people who responded were not caregivers but PSW from our definition.
…but we lucked out!
We stumbled upon a research paper written by The Change Foundation about family caregivers in Ontario. In the paper, they did a comprehensive review of the Ontario data from Statistics Canada’s General Social Survey to get a picture of those 3.3 million caregivers and to understand the kind of supports they provide. The research was pretty extensive and the definition of caregiver was exactly what we were looking for.
All in all, we received 50 responses from the PSW survey and we relied on secondary data from 6,850 caregivers in the research paper.
To understand the data we got from the survey and the research paper, we used the affinity mapping technique.
Online Survey — The survey was designed to understand the demographics of PSW, how they work, the challenges they face in this career and how would they want to improve the challenges.
Personal Support Worker Perspective — Based on the 50 responses, we learned that most of the PSWs are female between the ages of 35–54 years with over 10 years of work experience in the field. Interestingly, 96% of our PSWs face job challenges with their work.
The most mentioned challenges in the survey were low wages, not enough shifts, lack of communication with the client and inconsistent schedules.
It is also important to note that PSWs were employed in different work environments. This means that some work in the Long Term Care, 3rd party agencies, or sole operators (using third party employment sites to gain employment).
Challenges — Surprisingly, 96% of the respondents face challenges being a personal support worker. Most of the challenges that they mentioned were client absenteeism, cancellations, low wages, and credibility.
Moreover, 44% of them have used a mobile/web app to schedule bookings with the clients but a lot of them (40%) were not happy with those platforms. A lot of these apps did not let them make their own schedules which was one of the biggest challenges they were facing.
“Let the PSW schedule their own clients, this would allow for less people calling in sick, the travel time and also the frustration of clients.”
Caregivers — While the field of PSWs is dominated by females, caregivers were almost equally divided between males and females. Also, 76% of the caregivers were caring for their family members along with another paid employment.
Challenges — Most of the challenges faced by the caregivers were:
- Impact on education — 63% of people said that their education plans were postponed indefinitely because of caregiving responsibilities.
- Impact on work-life — 32% of people have one or more children under the age of 14 at home and are also employed. Those in the highest household income bracket ($100K) reported contributing more hours per week to caregiving activities.
- Amount of care — Caregivers (48% or 1.5 million people) spend anywhere from two to nine hours a week providing care to their family members. They mostly care for the aging (51%) family members, people with Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia (57%), back problems (54%) and respiratory problems (55%). Other types of care include emotional support, transportation assistance, doctors appointments, medical treatments and indoor domestic tasks.
- Absenteeism/Lateness — 30% (741,000 people) were late for work or had to leave early. 29% (735,000 people) missed an average of six days of work because of caregiving duties.
- Work-life balance — 45% of caregivers (1.5 million people) had some degree of difficulty fulfilling family responsibilities, including caregiving, because of work. 41% (1.3 million people) experienced some degree of difficulty concentrating on work responsibilities because of their combined family and caregiving responsibilities.
IDEATION: Brainstorming & Planning
User Personas — Going further through the research, we identified four personas, one for a PSW and three for caregivers, having different goals and frustrations. This data will be useful to improve the user experience for each one of them. The aim is to create an educational website which will provide the best possible experience for each persona.
Competitive Analysis — With the personas identified we wanted to analyze the competition and where Ayd Cares fits in the market. We wanted to see what others have done about the problem, identify any weaknesses or strong points, and see how our design can improve on top of what’s already been done. For that, we conducted a competitive analysis with eight direct and indirect competitors.
We looked at these websites having some features in mind which we thought would be beneficial for Ayd Cares as well, such as having an app, is the site responsive, community feeling, clear CTAs etc. Two most important features that we thought would set Ayd Cares apart was the ability to personalize schedules and clear, simple information.
While most of the websites had simple and clear information, only Bloom and Bookjane came close to have a combination of both the features we were looking for. The competitive analysis helped us understand how we can design Ayd Cares better and give users a great user experience.
Once we gained a clearer picture of our users and the market competition, we began generating design solutions in the form of sketches on paper.
By creating low-fidelity wireframes, we were able to go through a lot of design ideas and iterations and quickly find the right ones. During the ideation phase, we had a lot of discussions with each other, of the proposed site map and design ideas. There were a lot of ongoing efforts to make sure that we were all on the same page.
PROTOTYPING: Mid to High-fidelity prototypes
When the low-fi wireframes were finalized, it was time to turn those sketches into digital prototypes. We used Adobe XD to create the responsive mid-fidelity prototypes for user testing.
What set Ayd Cares apart?
- Differentiating between PSW and Caregiver: The home page was designed in a way that first-time users got to understand the difference between a PSW and a caregiver with ‘how it works’ which was one of the aims of the website.
- Clear and Simple Information Hierarchy: Keeping all the personas in mind, we wanted to make sure that the information is simple and easy to understand and follow. We did not want to make the website very text-heavy but engaging and interactive. For that reason, we incorporated videos and catchy illustrations which relay the message clearly.
- Clear Call-to-Actions: Call-to-Actions are important for any website to motivate the audience to become real clients/customers. We wanted the users to understand the vision of Ayd Cares and encourage them to use the phone apps that they offer. The first CTA, ‘connect today’, scrolls all the way down to ‘Our Apps’ section which then leads to the Apps page.
- Community: Ayd Cares has one of the largest networks of PSWs in Ontario. We wanted to give a community feel to both the PSWs and caregivers which means that they could connect with each other for help and information. For this reason, we added the section ‘Meet our PSW’ which showcase some of the PSWs in the network and how they can help out the caregivers. Also, to validate the work of PSWs, we have client testimonials given by some of the caregivers.
- Responsive: From our survey, we saw that 96% of the respondents use a smartphone to browse websites. We wanted to make sure that the users are able to use view Ayd Cares site on their mobile phones as well.
USER TESTING & FEEDBACK: Validating the solution
To ensure and validate that our solution works well, we conducted ten user tests on both mobile and web versions. We asked them to perform some tasks:
- How would you register for an account?
- Where would you go to read the AYD Cares blog?
- If you wanted to learn more about AYD Cares, where would you go?
- If you wanted to learn more about the AYD Cares app, where would you go?
- How would you download the PSW/Caregiver app?
We tested the users on the following success metrics:
Feedback — Overall, the users were able to complete the tasks. The prototype was simple to navigate and the information is easy to understand. However, we received some useful feedback which was incorporated in the following iterations before moving onto the high-fidelity designs. Some of the important feedback is shown below:
“Some information is not needed and is too redundant. I wouldn’t want to read all of it.”
“I had a hard time finding the FAQ on the mobile version.”
“My team section is confusing. Not sure which description corresponds to which picture.”
IMPLEMENTATION: The final designs!
Moodboards & Style Guide — The logo and the branding guidelines were already provided to us by the client, however, he was open to fonts and the addition of more colors in the illustrations. The UI team spent some time looking for inspirations and came up with mood boards and a style guide which was loved by the client.
We revisited our initial designs and solved some of the issues we had found during the user testing stage. Based on the feedback and the style guide, we designed the high-fidelity wireframes.
Watch the video to view the full web prototype. View the mobile prototype here.
Future Considerations & Takeaways
Ayd Cares was one of the most fun projects I have been a part of. The client was super nice and cooperative and made sure we had every help we needed. He made sure to give us creative freedom in those three weeks and we are grateful to him for trusting us with Ayd Cares.
During our presentation, we proposed some future considerations which he could add later on in the website. We suggested that Ayd Cares could have a profiles page where the PSWs and caregiver could see others’ profiles and filter them by skills and credentials. Moreover, the website could also add calendar functionality in the future for the PSWs to view their schedules from the website as well. Also, we proposed that they hire a copywriter who could write engaging yet simple copy which would get the mission of Ayd Cares across to the users.
I think that the learnings from the Ayd Cares design process would significantly influence the way we will approach similar projects in the future.
Thank you so much for reading! If you enjoyed this case study or have any feedback, I’d love to hear from you. Connect with me on LinkedIn.