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Stockport Council's new adult social care website 'My Care, My Choice': A business case for service co-design

Change management

We partnered with CSED (Care Services Efficiencies Delivery) and Quickheart, a specialist website design company, to rebuild our site, working together with service users. This involved using ethnographic methodology to understand how our customers wanted to see information, what language was important to them, their perception of social care as a ‘place of last resort’ and the importance of clear and easy navigation tools on the site.
The first step was that the ethnographer independently recruited a range of our customers from across Stockport. The important element was that they were not people nominated by social care. The methodology the ethnographer uses means that, instead of the traditional workshop method, he worked with people in an intensive way. This meant a small number of users (30) to understand their views of social care and how they want to receive information – particularly, what things are important to them in relation to social care support.

The ethnographer carried out research with our customers in their own environment in order to establish what they thought of they way we currently provided online information.

Headlines from this research were:

  • We needed to improve information and advice to the public about adult social care services, as our previous website was deemed not fit for purpose and was confusing and hard to navigate.

  • Due to demographic pressures and the need to support increasing numbers of people, we needed to provide better information to support service users and their families to enable better informed decision making.

  • We had to reach people before they got into crisis and to promote prevention options and choices for them in line with the requirements of the UK adult social care programme ’Putting People First‘ – in particular, we needed to promote universal services and we needed to support self-funders.

  • We needed to develop an online charging calculator that gave people an idea how much their likely charge would be, if they received services from us.

  • We needed an information hub that could be used by our own staff (and partner agencies like GPs and nursing staff) as a point of referral to our services.

We also completed a mystery shopping exercise with a group of customers on our old site and then took the learning form this to redesign the new site. This meant asking people to search for particular information whilst being timed. This turned up some interesting results: people sometimes spent up to 40 minutes struggling to find the information they wanted –  and what they ended up with was sometimes just the PDF of a standard leaflet or advice that they should ring us at the contact centre!

We worked with our local voluntary sector partners to ensure that the new design of the website addressed the needs of our diverse customer base. Each of the major voluntary sector organisations recruited a number of testers to work with us in developing the website and we took heed of their feedback on layout, pictures and language. An editorial board of staff from all the service areas was set up to ensure we got the ownership of the operational teams. We worked with a copy writer to ensure the language on the site was accessible and did not present jargon and ‘expert speak’.

We built the site using bright, colourful and positive images in three months using a set of templates to reflect the customer journey. These templates ensured that all the ‘information pages’ on My Care, My Choice followed the same consistent style, with the headings:

  • 'What is the service?'

  • 'How much does it cost?'

  • 'Can I get help with the cost?'

  • 'How to get in touch'

About this case study
Main Contact

Jude Wells
07800 618811 (mobile)
0161 474 3529 (landline)


Jude Wells provided Governance International with this case study on 13 December 2010. This case study was updated on 27 September 2011.

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