On Localgov.co.uk there’s a piece by Charles Leadbeater on the need for innovation in local services to both create savings, improve services and satisfy citizens. As a book-lover I’m not enamoured by some of his library examples, although I think some improvements can and are being made, but I don’t believe dumbing down always works and there is a need to ask people what they want before being as presumptuous as government frequently is!
One of the examples of how we screw up innovation came through being a member of a circle of friends – this particular group was faced with the situation where a disabled person had been provided with a piece of equipment, a fall monitor, but due to the watch strap fitting were unable to put it on or take it off themselves. The local authority ignored the individuals protests and the device was stuck in a drawer until the group suggested super gluing Velcro onto the strap. The role of the circle of friends is frequently to compensate for the short-sightedness of those in authority who think they know better than the user. This being an example of telehealth, an area we need to get right if we are to make the expected savings.
Whilst Charles Leadbeater has a point, it’s so consistent with the performance of politicians, when we were being told what is good for us, without them personally having any examination of how, why and for whom. Much is spoken about consultation and codesign, but how often is it practised by those in the field?