Yesterday I was part of a task and finish group on developing a health and wellbeing website for the Welsh citizen. The website aims to give information to people and to help them have choice and control over the services they’re accessing. The crux of the matter being that without the right information at your fingertips it’s very difficult, if not impossible to choose which services to access.
Cathryn Thomas of the Social Services Improvement Agency (SSIA) explained to me that “strong voice and control is only as good as the information we have to make these decisions. This programme wants to pull together all the strands of social care information, for instance leisure, housing and health, in to one easily accessible place which then allows individuals to make informed choices about how they can best maintain their independence”.
There was quite an eclectic mix of people attending, with representatives from the public and third sectors. But the best part of it is that they’ve also recognised the importance of engaging with citizens at an early stage before any decisions on the site have been made. So I asked Andrea Cruttenden, a carer who is a member of the task and finish group, why she’s glad to be involved and her hopes for the site. You can hear her response in the AudioBoo below.
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She said that the design of websites can be “over-complicated and a little bit scary for first time users as well, and I value the importance of trying to keep the site as simple and uncomplicated as possible.” I was in the same group as Angela, who contributed so much useful information during the day, which we simply wouldn’t have heard without the citizen representation. Not only that, but her ideas were backed up with powerful evidence from examples in her life of the difference user-centred information can make to people’s lives.
Importantly we discussed the importance of accessibility so that everyone can access it, both in terms of disability and inaccessible language and jargon. It was said during the event that the language shouldn’t be “local authority speak”.
Before the next meeting in February we’ve been asked to think about websites that we like and why we like them, so it would be great if you could let us know what websites you like and why in the comments field below! We promise to take these examples with us and we won’t try and pass them off as our own!