Better signposting to non statutory services for adults

Full Application: Not funded at this stage

NHS Choices estimate that over the next 17 years more than 16 million of us will be over the age of 65. With less money available and increasing demand, adult social care services across the country are under increasing pressure.

The most forward thinking councils are investing in early intervention and better signposting to prevent issues from occurring upstream, keeping older people in their homes longer and reducing the demand on statutory services and costs.

Buckinghamshire and the partner councils recognise that there is an opportunity to do more to signpost people to non statutory services and to provide a more seamless and empathetic digital user experience for self service and assisted support. We are looking to carry out a phase of discovery work to understand what new opportunities exist to redesign the ‘front door’ for adult social care.

Our objectives

Through this discovery project we will understand:

  • How well the research carried out by NHS Choices fits the local government context
  • How content can be designed to meet the needs of older people and people with disabilities looking for care and support
  • What information and advice carers need to help them support people and get access to the right non-statutory services
  • Whether eligibility checkers and simple self-assessments are useful tools
  • The potential for new digital tools such as conversational user interfaces
  • How best to help people explore the rich data held in service directories

The work will be delivered by a digital agency working with colleagues from the partner councils. BCC will be responsible for procuring a digital agency and ensuring outputs are delivered.

We will set clear sprint goals and develop outputs iteratively, publishing work in progress. We will test with users how they navigate the IAG sites and explore how best to syndicate content from the NHS Choices Care and Support Guide.

We’ll highlight opportunities that can be taken forward into Alpha that will help to reduce demand and costs through improved signposting, self-assessment and digital support.

Indicative timeline – the project will ensure it delivers the agreed outputs, but the focus from sprint-to-sprint may change as we prioritise the work.


Deadline Milestone Event / Activity
December 2018
  • Project kick off
  • Procurement of design/digital agency
Project start
January 2019
  • Evaluate suppliers and award contract
  • Alignment meeting
Kick off with supplier partner
WB February 11th 2019
  • Develop research plan
  • Desk research and develop hypothesis for user research
User research
February 22nd 2019
  • Show and tell
  • Sprint planning
Publish initial research insights deck on user needs
WB February 25th 2019
  • Sprint 2
  • Explore business needs for social care information and advice
  • Review policy and legislation
  • Develop design patterns for accessing IAG content
User research

Business analysis

Service design

March 8th 2019
  • Show and tell
  • Sprint planning
Publish initial research insights deck on user needs
WB March 11th 2019
  • Sprint 3
  • Continue user research
  • Continue service design
  • Begin technical discovery on NHS Choices Content API
Publish updated user research outputs

Publish updated design patterns

Publish report on syndicating content from NHS Choices

March 22nd 2019
  • Show and tell
  • Prioritise wrap-up activity
Publish initial research insights deck on user needs
WB March 25th 2019
  • Finalising research outputs, technical report and design patterns
Publish final outputs


The Care Act (2014) requires local authorities to ensure the provision or arrangement of services, facilities or resources to help prevent, delay or reduce the development of needs for care and support. To get social care, people need to meet national eligibility criteria and if the local authority charges for the required type of support, undergo means-testing.

Data from NHS Digital has shown that local authorities received 1.8 million new requests for adult social care support in 2017-18, an increase of 1.6 per cent on 2016-17 and equivalent to 5,100 new requests per day.

Adult social care is the largest area of spend for local authorities. Making improvements to the way that people can find out about and access non-statutory support in their area will help people stay independent for longer and reduce the cost to the local authority of providing social care services.

The provision of services across health, social care and self-funded support at home is confusing for users. A better understanding of user needs, well designed content and common patterns for checking eligibility will help people navigate through their options for care and support.

We are working together as partner local authorities and will be explicit, in the procurement of a design partner, that all outputs will be shared openly and regularly. We will publish our work as we go and host show and tells every two weeks. These show and tells will be livestreamed over the web and via a teleconference line.

We will engage with colleagues across local government via the LocalGovDigital Slack community and any other communications channels available through the councils and its design partner.

For the impact and benefits research we will look at the potential impact of improving the user experience of accessing information and advice, to understand it’s role in helping people find appropriate non-statutory services and preparing them for conversations about their care and support needs.

By April 2019 we will have produced:

Output Action
Business Case The discovery will help understand how to better structure adult social care information, advice and guidance content to be both ‘care act compliant’ and also meet the needs of users who are trying to understand their options. We will evaluate the extent to which better content design, syndication of NHS Choices content and tools like eligibility checkers can help divert people away from statutory services.
User Research Report We will build on existing research carried out by NHS Choices and publish insights on the needs of users who are looking for detailed information on the local authority (and/or local partners) website. We will publish research insights to a shared platform (such as GitHub or Google Docs) – this will include anonymised raw transcripts, insights reports, show and tell decks and a final user research findings report.
Technical Report A technical report on how to work with the NHS Choices content API and options/approaches for syndicating national content.
Summary Report and Recommendations A clear evaluation of whether to stop, carry out further discovery or proceed to Alpha(s) for new content, information architectures and or tools like eligibility checkers. The outline project plan has a final one week sprint to wrap up all of the discovery outputs.


In order to understand to explore what more can be done to better signpost to non statutory services and to provide more empathetic user centred digital experiences to support better self service and assisted digital support we will need to carry out research with a range of users and staff.

As an older person and/or a person with disabilities:

  • I want to understand what support I am entitled to so that I can get the right support
  • I want to understand the options available to me, so that I can get the right support for my circumstances
  • I want to access the right support services, so that I can stay independent in my own home

As a loved one or carer:

  • I want to understand and follow the processes so that I can support someone
  • I want to help someone complete eligibility checkers, so they know what they’re entitled to and can access the right support

As a health and social care professional:

  • I want to signpost people to the most appropriate services, so that they get the right support for their needs

The research objectives are to explore the needs of these different users for accessing information and advice via the internet. We will seek to understand how well their needs are being met, the current effectiveness of information and advice services, where people look for trusted information about social care and how we measure the success of IAG services.

Access to the GDS User Research Lab

Introduction to service design workshop with the social care transformation and digital teams

Connect the project with the GDS Content Design community and NHS Digital Content Teams

We have not been granted funding for this project in the past