Designing adult social care

Supporting local government to transform real-life adult social care challenges
Illustration of a street scene
Illustration of people waiting in a lounge with signs hanging up for A & E and Wards

Public services are operating under ever increasing demands; in the last decade, spending on social care across the UK has fallen by almost 10%. Rising life expectancy, an aging population, and increasingly complex requirements mean that there is an urgent need for change.

The current reality is that, for many people, navigating or receiving support with healthcare can be extremely complex. Processes and services are often designed to fit organisations, not humans. Often, decisions around people’s own care, or that of their family and friends, are made at a time of crisis, and the complexity of getting help can add to their stress and anxiety.

Transforming services

The Local Government Association (LGA) is the national voice of local government. It works with councils across England and Wales to support, promote and improve public services. To help support this ambition, in 2018 LGA partnered with Snook in order to support local councils to transform real-life adult social care challenges with the power of design. From supporting the elderly to live independently to rethinking emergency care, we used Snook’s Design in Practice Programme, to create solutions that were both practical and human-centered.

Training in action

During the project, Snook provided each of the 10 councils around the country with over 40 hours of structured practical training alongside one-to-one on-site mentoring. We built multidisciplinary teams to support projects from Newcastle to Southend, and looked at a broad range of challenges across adult social care.

Teams attended four off-site interactive and practical training workshops which covered the design process from research and synthesis to prototyping and testing. During these sessions participants were exposed to design principles and methods, then supported in putting these approaches into practice through their own transformation project. In between sessions, Snook delivered one-to-one mentoring back at the council sites to support ongoing project delivery through show-and-tells, director engagement sessions and general project planning.

People enjoying themselves and looking at paper mock-ups during a Snook workshop


As a result of working with LGA and Snook, the councils came away with design training that they are using to improve the services they deliver. Across the whole programme, 82% of participants rated the sessions helpful and 99% of participants felt that the workshops met their stated objectives.

  • 82% Participants rated the sessions helpful
  • 99% Felt that the workshops met their stated objectives

Most importantly, because of the project, new effective design-led approaches to adult social care are being tested across the country. The outputs are exciting and innovative.

“The programme team were great throughout – always on hand with good suggestions. They were energetic, knowledgeable and clear with guidance – thanks you all.”

Programme participant — Design in Social Care programme

A particular highlight has been designed by Lewisham Council. They created a ‘living room’ for the hospital that will provide support and vital information around discharge, re-enablement packages and financial care costs. It responded to the need for support beyond the hospital doors, enabling people to transition into normal everyday life with ease.