Camphill Village Trust are a national charity providing support to around 450 adults with learning disabilities in urban and rural communities across England.
People are supported to be independent in their homes and given opportunities to develop vocational skills through social and cultural activities. The charity encourages people to take a more active role in their community by co-producing projects; in so doing, bringing about the positive changes they wish for. Outcomes using this approach have been transformational - people have grown in confidence, self-esteem and ownership. We co-created the now much revered CVT Connect website app following this co-production approach. Watch our film below:
The Design Challenge
The success of co-production is often dependent on finding engaging ways for people to collaborate, share ideas and turn plans into actions. This was a challenge for us initially as we had to learn how people with learning disabilities like to engage.
The ‘GOT IT’ team (a group of residents from Gloucestershire) recognised that people with learning disabilities are increasingly using digital technology. They had noticed the growing use of tablets and smart phones amongst their peers, but felt anxious about using social networking sites due to complexity and perceived risks associated with sharing personal information.
Keen to explore how digital technology could support the charity, we were invited by CVT to co-design a digital app so that people could stay informed, collaborate on projects and develop digital skills.
Every aspect of ‘CONNECT’ has been co-designed by the people who are using it. Their initial brief was simple in that it had to be highly intuitive and easy to use. The app has been designed around four key functions:
1. Create a personal profile
The profile replicates a one page profile as often used in people’s support plans or care files. The benefit of doing this digitally is that it prevents important information from being hidden in a file to something that is dynamic, owned by the person and easy to update. Staff and trustees are also encouraged to create a profile so that the supporter and supported can learn more about each other. People can also create a ‘personal wall’. This is a space where they can use words, photos, symbols and emojis to plan everyday activities. Each user can choose who they wish to share their profile with, including their friends and support workers.
2. Share ideas
Users can create a shared wall around a theme or idea. People can choose to join a shared wall created by others and contribute ideas by placing a ‘postie’ with either copy, a photo, symbol or emoji to express their thoughts or attach a document.
3. Work together
Creating a digital platform ensures people can plan and work together without having to be in the same location. Once a wall is created, people can make plans to co-produce projects together. There is also a resource section where people can browse and select from a constantly updated digital library.
4. Keep informed
The digital noticeboards are linked to where people live and work. There are also noticeboards where trustees and staff can post accessible information and policies. Having digital noticeboards ensures that the people with disabilities have updated information that they need to make choices. It is also one way in which people can use digital media to share their ideas and have a direct link with the governance of the charity.
CVT CONNECT encourages people to network digitally but with additional safeguards of local administrators who know each person in their CVT community and offer help to ensure people have full control over what they do.
At the time of writing, positive impacts include:
- 270 members of CVT have signed up and are successfully using the app.
- People with learning disabilities having co-produced an app and developed skills through this process.
- People are using the sharing walls to support work on their projects.
- The charity is building more equal relationships between staff and the people they support.
- Information sharing and communication has improved.
- The app is fun and supports social interaction through technology.
- CVT have been invited by a number of organisations to whitelabel this platform for other disabled people.
“Co-producing CVT connect was just extraordinary. People had lots of ideas which they all wanted to see happen in the APP. I love what we have done." Member of the GOT IT team.