How do we design recovery services for the digital age?
Only a small number of people who need drug and alcohol services access them. Our new digital team are looking at how we can promote access and remove barriers to support.
I’m Rosalyn, product lead in our new digital team at Addaction.
Addaction is one of the UK’s leading drug, alcohol and mental health charities with services across England and Scotland. We work with people in a range of ways including in community settings, in prisons, in residential rehab and through outreach.
Demand for drug and alcohol services mean that they are only used by a small proportion of people who need them. It’s estimated that only 1 in 5 people who need treatment for alcohol dependency are currently receiving it. This sets us a challenge — how can we change the way we deliver services and provide support so we can help more people?
There are already examples within Addaction of digital being used to promote access and remove barriers to support.
We introduced our webchat service in 2017 and already over 11,000 people have accessed help this way. Far more women than men use webchat which is the opposite to traditional drug and alcohol services.
Our psychological therapies mental health service recently redesigned how people access the service to make it much quicker and easier and introduced online bookings for appointments. These changes saw an increase of 20% in the number of people entering treatment following a referral.
We have big ambitions.
The success of these two projects is just the start. We want to transform the recovery journey — right from people finding out about support available to them, to accessing support and throughout their treatment.
9 out of 10 households in the UK have internet access with many of us doing everything online — from banking to booking holidays and ordering our weekly supermarket shop. People’s expectations have changed — bank opening hours don’t matter when you can access online banking at any time without leaving your home.
We want to design drug, alcohol and mental health services for a digital age.
We’ll do this by focusing on the people who use our services and the people who don’t currently but do need our support. We’ll always start with research to understand what people are trying to do, how they currently do things and to understand any problems or frustrations they may experience. We will test our ideas and designs with people who will be using them and iterate based on their feedback until we get it right.
We’ve started doing this already through a discovery on people’s experiences during the first four weeks after coming to Addaction for the first time. My next blog will focus on this work and our research findings.