Skip to main content
KBS_Icon_questionmark link-ico
Frailty is as important as age or underlying health issues in Covid-19 death risk ;

Co-Design for Care: HWL Ripple - inspirational, accessible and easy to use

In looking at the role of co-design in care, the sectors context informs HWL’s work in two ways – the need for lived experience and future trends.

1. Lived experience

Firstly, an important initiative by Scottish Government, highlighted in HWL December bulletin is the focus on co-design to inform future service needs.

The National Care Service recently invited applications for a Lived Experience Experts Panel, to understand the changes that are needed and checking that changes are possible and practical. This is what co-design means – working alongside the people who use and deliver health and social care services to ensure everyone get a future organisation that works for all.

“The complexities of getting this right should not be underestimated. People with experience of the current system, whether in receipt of health and care support or delivering it, are the experts. We particularly need to hear those voices.” Kevin Stewart, Scotland's minister for social care.

2. Future trends

Secondly, the recent Resolution Foundation Who Cares and Reimagining Care Commission reports both highlight care workforce needs and issues where a co-design ethos will be a critical factor in driving meaningful change that is embedded in the culture of care homes.

Jobs in social care have many positive aspects of working in the sector, including the ability to form deep personal connections with clients, job security, and greater levels of flexibility and autonomy than are possible in many low-paid jobs. But there are many challenges too. Pay is low – and likely unlawfully low for many workers in the domiciliary sector once their travel time is accounted for.

This, along with funding constraints and the particular demands of the Covid period, have contributed to a staffing crisis which is having serious negative knock-on effects on workload and safety.

Co-Design for Care: HWL Ripple toolkit - inspirational, accessible and easy to use

Co-design can crack wicked problems in care

Co-design theory and practice has been adopted by industry in change consulting, in a TRL context, and in public service transformation. However, it’s not particularly familiar to care home sector leaders and if used by external consultants is often perceived as expensive and challenging to commission.

To understand where co-design can drive improvement by empowering employees, HWL has identified four key challenges care homes face:

  1. Recruitment - Care workforce recruitment and attraction - enabling care home providers to better recruit staff

  2. Retention - Care provider capacity building - enabling care home providers to develop, upskill and increase the value and motivation of their employees

  3. Effectiveness - Care provider operational effectiveness – enabling care home providers to improve service delivery, scheduling and commercial impact

  4. Wellbeing - Care patient improved experience – enabling care home providers to improve customer experience and improve customer satisfaction


HWL has invested in the development of a Co-Design approach tailored to the healthy ageing market that harnesses a raft of existing, proven innovation and change tools in a structured, flexible framework that makes co-design inspirational, accessible and impactful.

The approach - known as the HWL Ripple Co-design Toolkit - has been successfully used in a range of care settings with powerful results as evidenced by our interview with Carol Chiverton. 

Ripple Frame

The HWL Ripple co-design toolkit that can be used in all types of change projects. The ambition is to enable health and care professionals to lead their own co-design initiatives by creating a tool that has three key goals:

  • Tailored – putting all the relevant and usable tools in one place, removing the jargon and making it simple to choose the appropriate ones
  • Inspirational – inspiring confidence for care workers to take control of their own working lives and drive change and improvement
  • Accessible – building capability and capacity, equipping care professionals with skills to make change happen

Getting change started

One challenge of change is how to get started. There are so many tools and methods out there If you know where to look. So, it’s almost an impossible task for care home front line workers and managers who aren’t experienced in co-design to select the appropriate tool for them and their situation.

We identified over more than 300 different innovation and management tools alone, so it rapidly became clear we needed to provide care workers with a holistic vision of co-design process so they could make informed choices for themselves.

Round pegs in round holes.

The whole gamut of change tools is daunting, so to make employees feel comfortable we started using a handful of the tools such as the “Care home of the Future” or the Circle of Care” rather than the whole framework.

The HWL Ripple Co-design toolkit is designed so that the right tool can be selected for the right situation or team. We’re agnostic about individual tools because they have multiple applications for instance De Bono’s Six Hats maybe used in a people or systems setting.

Try stuff out

Working with specific tools gives employees the experience of trying out different methods in a safe setting to develop the experience to select the right ones that suit them. The HWL Ripple Co-design toolkit is designed to build self-belief that staff can be co-designers who don’t need to rely on external experts.

Join a HWL co-design team demonstration

Join a HWL co-design team demonstration of the HWL Ripple co-design toolkit in a hands-on workshop, designed to show how co-design can be deployed by both business and academia health and care projects.

Follow our Facebook page, where you can chat with us directly, as well as keep up to date with the latest insights from Care Sector research, and activities from the programme.

Get in touch of you’d like to participate -

In this story

Sarah Kettley

Sarah Kettley

Healthier Working Lives Co-design research lead

Luis Soares

Luis Soares

Healthier Working Lives Research Associate

John Mathers

John Mathers

Healthier Working Lives Enterprise and Design lead

Julian Grice

Julian Grice

Healthier Working Lives Enterprise and Design lead

Latest news