Service Rehab

Service is ubiquitous and seldom noticed. Of course, users are aware of the most common examples of services — a waiter in a restaurant or banking/insurance/healthcare. Services such as healthcare and transportation started out as basic needs and have been established and improved over time. The role of the service’s design in these instances is to have the service system’s processes seamlessly integrated across channels for a smoothly delivered experience. Service Design is more than fixing broken experiences though. Instead of just mending existing services, we can take issues and problems to deliver radical and innovative solutions. Service Design has the potential to explore opportunities across all fields.

The role of design in a complex intervention for stroke rehabilitation service has been explored by Macdonal, David London, Anne Taylor at the School of design, the Glasgow School of Art. The design intervention had tangible visual tools which were co-developed with stakeholders to enhance patient-therapist interaction. This helped understanding for patients, enhanced communication between patient and therapist, and provided an objective tool for therapists to monitor progress and communicate this to patients. Eradicating medical jargon and communicating in simple lay terms helped reduce the ‘social distance’ between therapist, patient and clinical biomechanist.

Design thinking for services in the area of social rehabilitation can be applied to other instances which are yet to be explored. Crime, imprisonment and rehabilitation into society are topics not as popular as healthcare. Yet, these are almost as important -

What happens when a criminal is released from prison and allowed back into our neighbourhoods?

There are several modern programs for rehabilitation of prisioners which do help to a certain extent. These ideas are known to have helped somewhat in reducing recidivism i.e the act of habitually relapsing into crime resulting in a return to prison. The California Department of Corrections & Rehabiltiation has taken up the task and offers a range of services for prisioners at various stages — from incarceration, nearing parole to parole. The services offered range from gaining a diploma, getting technical education to cognitive behavioral treatment and more. Such services help prisioners in their personal transformation and enable them to be a part of the society. In the UK Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014 (ORA) came into force on 1 February 2015. This is a significant step in implementing the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms which will reduce the stubbornly high rate of reoffending which has been far too high for far too long.

One interesting method of implemeting this reform is that instead of manageing everything by themselves, the government would be doing it through 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) from the private, voluntary and social sectors (including potential mutuals). These providers would by incentivised for innovation, by paying providers by results for delivering reductions in reoffending. Another interesting move is the majority of prisoners will be moved to a resettlement prison close to their community at least 3 months before release. For high risk offenders, they have created a new public sector National Probation Service (NPS). The NPS and CRCs will work with each other and their partners to reduce reoffending. The NPS and CRCs will also work with a wide range of partners to deliver services, reduce reoffending and protect the public.

“The system is designed to deliver more effective rehabilitation and mentoring to more offenders, while ensuring that sentences of the court are carried out, the public is protected and taxpayers’ money is put to best use. It is a system in which innovation will be encouraged and success in reducing reoffending will be rewarded.”

We can see two great examples of rehabilitation services, one which is managed directly and once through external partnerships. These are relatively new reforms taking place in few developed countries and states. Such initiatives need to be implemented in all parts of the world. More so, if a service designer were to enter the mix, how would the service change and what tangible results would it yield?


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