Bridging the gap: remote carers and digital inclusion in Government Services - Part 2

Social Security Programme Blog: Leadership Series – Part two: analysing and impacting our findings from user research

Rethenwyn (Ren) Grethenan, Senior User Researcher and Eduard Vasile, User Researcher


In the spring of 2023, a team of user researchers went far and wide to collect insights from carers living in the furthest reaches of Scotland. Working alongside the product and design teams who are delivering the new carers benefit for Scotland, this research was a massive collaborative effort.

In this second blog we will explore how we went about analysing and presenting our findings, and the impact they have had, and continue to have, on the development of Carer Support Payment (CSP) and beyond.

Collaborative sense making

Speaking to over 100 people in person meant that we collected a lot of rich, contextual data that told the often traumatic stories of carers who live remotely or are digitally excluded. It felt essential that we didn’t lose these details, yet at the same time we needed to make the insights actionable and easy for the product team to clearly assess and prioritise.

Initially we worked collaboratively within the user research team to pull out all relevant quotes and then group them into themes and sub-themes. This gave us a density map which showed, at a glance, where we had lots of quotes clustered around a single point, and therefore where we had identified a common insight or issue.

Painting a picture for the team

Hundreds of sticky notes scattered across a Miro board are not the easiest to navigate! Our next challenge was to determine how we could effectively represent the insights so that the team had a clear, actionable way of taking them into delivery. Most importantly, we wanted people to feel close to the findings and invested in acting on them.

A single Power Point presentation didn’t feel sufficient. We sought ideas from the team to understand what would be most useful and decided to map our insights to the different phases of the carer journey that relate to Carer Support Payment. These phases were:

  1. Transitioning into caring
  2. Learning about Carers Allowance/Carer Support Payment
  3. Applying for Carers Allowance/Carer Support Payment
  4. Carer Support Payment award structure
  5. Earnings
  6. Underlying Entitlement
  7. Maintaining wellbeing
  8. Transitioning out of caring

For each phase, we used our insights backed up by direct quotes, to outline what these carers are currently experiencing, what they need to know to move on, and what challenges they are facing.

This painted a broad, interactive landscape that the team could revisit and dive into any time they needed.

Making the insights actionable

This framework laid a foundation on which we were able to build our recommendations. For each phase, we presented areas where the service could be improved on or grown to reach its goals. Finally, we tagged each recommendation with the team who would need to action it, so that it was as easy as possible to pick up and prioritise.

We deliberately included recommendations for the Policy and Comms and National Engagement teams, as it was evident that they are critical to helping carers realise that not only are they are in a caring role, but that there is support out there for them.

Measuring the impact

Now that we are coming up to a year since this work was carried out, we are able to reflect on the longer-term impact that it has had. Some of it has been surprising and some of it bears witness to the challenges the Carer Support Payment team have effectively overcome. All of it demonstrates the commitment from everyone in the Programme to delivering the best services we possibly can.

In addition to enhancing the design of Care Support Payment, the findings have been used by the Policy team within their impact assessments and scoping of future policy changes, and by other research teams across Programme and Government – in particular, the pension-age benefits and Connecting Scotland. They have also enabled us to build relationships with third-sector originations like Carers Trust, feeding into the amazing work that they are doing.

If this inspires one thing…

Talking to carers, and those who care for them, can be eye-opening, heart-opening, and emotional. Especially for those carers who experience digital or geographical isolation. Their responsibilities can feel endlessly overwhelming and their access to support limited.

Carer Support Payment aims to provide stability to carers and to help them to take up the wide range of support available to them. Issues around benefit take-up extend far beyond designing the best service possible. It’s essential that we keep these conversations going, that we continue to talk to those clients who are hard to reach, and carry on working hard to help make sure all carers are able to access the support they need.

Additional note: If anyone would like to know more about our research or to view any of our findings then please get in touch! We would love to talk to you.

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