The Office of the Public Guardian are well aware that the job of a Deputy is not an easy one?They commissioned a review in late 2015 into what could be done to at least make the paperwork a little easier. Here are some notes on their findings.
Making Deputyship Easier: what they learned part 1 – research findings.
Four rounds of user research showed many ways to improve the deputy forms. Some things sound obvious, but it’s good to prove them through testing rather than acting on a hunch. Some of the suggestions were rather basic.
- Giving people more space to write answers.
- Using plain English not legalease.
- Including helpful guidance within the forms rather than in a separate booklet.
- Giving examples with the questions to make it clearer what the form was trying to discover.
Based on the findings the research recommended completely changed the structure and order of some parts of the deputy forms. A natural flow of questions makes for easier completion (and lower fees where we are acting as professional deputies.) The studies also showed that the placing prompts had a big impact on whether they helped or not.
Making Deputyship Easier: what they learned part 2 – user research is hard
One thing the researchers were not expecting was how upsetting some of the sessions would be. Being a deputy can be tough, especially if it is a friend or family member who has lost mental capacity. Being a deputy is an emotional job for friends and family. The researchers felt that many deputies needed emotional support themselves.
One of the biggest challenges was for the researchers to stay completely neutral. It’s hard not to nod and smile encouragingly when someone’s talking to you and asking questions. The research project was not about giving advice. but working towards making the role of deputy a bit less stressful by reducing the strain of form filling.
New forms for Deputies from 1st March 2016…
The new deputy forms are now ready for deputies to use and the Office of the Public Guardian will be publishing them on 1 March 2016. They learned a lot from the research process.