Putting the relevant person at the heart of our planning

23 Jul, 2021


As part of the preparatory work being undertaken to implement the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act, 2015, we engaged with potential service users to assist us in the design of the most appropriate and user-friendly interface to use for people using our new services.

The feedback from potential service users of the Decision Support Service (DSS) is an essential element in developing our IT system to ensure it works in a manner that best meets their needs.

We commissioned Inclusion Ireland to undertake a consultation with persons with disabilities to explore their needs and preferences in using digital systems. The consultation consisted of online focus groups held over several weeks where people freely expressed their opinions and outlined their priorities as they welcomed the introduction of the new service.

We intend to launch a modern, public-facing, and ‘digital-first’ system. We must ensure that the system is user friendly and accessible, therefore capturing the views of self-advocates is an essential early step in its design.

Our Director of the DSS, Áine Flynn, said: “knowledge surrounding the DSS, how it will be delivered, and whom it will support is quite limited at this stage. This is to be expected as we have not yet rolled out our full public information and awareness-raising campaign. On commencement of the service in mid-2022, it is our intention to engage early and often with our various stakeholders to ensure that the service is easy to use, accessible and that appropriate supports are in place”.

Prior to the focus groups taking place, Inclusion Ireland created easy to read information which was sent to participants so they could prepare and seek support if needed. The information was created in partnership with a group of self-advocates to ensure accessibility.

Overall, 42 people participated in the consultation, from over 10 different counties, representing a mix of gender, age and disability type. Persons with intellectual disability, mental health difficulties, and autism spectrum disorder participated in the focus groups.

Participants engaged freely, sharing their thoughts and experiences during the focus groups. They raised challenges for us to consider around accessibility to hardware, broadband speed, data protection and information provision. They also presented issues for our consideration such as familiarity with mobile communications, preferred social media channels, familiarity with platforms for online meetings, and the importance of having their own documentation securely stored in one location.

“The information we gathered during this consultation was invaluable and will inform our design and guide the development of our online portal and register,” said Ms Flynn. “Also, the consultation provided the opportunity to ascertain what participants knew about the DSS, their expectations of the service, their communication and information preferences, and how they would like to interact with the service going forward.”

It is planned to undertake further consultation and practical testing as the system is developed to ensure it is user-friendly for the relevant person.

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