Many care service providers and care service commissioners believe that a person-​centered approach is crucial in supporting decision making for health and social care for adults with learning difficulties. Supporting people to articulate their needs and views is imperative to putting appropriate supports in place. The challenge for providers is to enable adults with learning difficulties to have effective input into the ways in which they are supported. 

For Leapfrog’s next major project, Be Included, the team wanted to investigate different ways of supporting a co-​design process that could bring together a group of participants who are geographically dispersed and working with adults with learning difficulties who wanted to develop tools to capture person centred evaluation of services. The Be Included project will work with service providers and other stakeholders to co-​design tools that gather person centred information allowing care service users of all abilities to evaluate the current services they receive and plan for the future.

To do this the team explored a wide range of creative digital and non-​digital approaches that could potentially overcome the barrier of physical distance to participation. Ideas discussed included the use of Instagram, radio, shopping catalogues, chain letters, and out sending voice recorders. Whilst considering the ethical dimensions surrounding the use of social media in a research context, the team agreed that a digital mobile platform which utilises a camera function could provide an efficient way for participants to visually record insights and ideas, and upload these to a closed group for discussion.

The Be Included project is collaborating with a range of service providers, who are dispersed across eight regions in Scotland, to co-​design tools to enable a more person-​centred evaluation of care with adults with learning difficulties. Deciding on using the social media platform WhatsApp, and in not wanting to make any assumptions about the participants’ prior knowledge of the app, time was spent developing a simple and straightforward WhatsApp video tutorial. This was sent out to the participants in their project induction pack and can be viewed at:

https://​vimeo​.com/​2​3​2​2​5​2​948

From our initial experience in setting up this project, where interaction between the Leapfrog team and the participants is currently being done completely over WhatsApp, a key piece of learning was the preparation needed before we began to ensure transparency so that the participants were aware of WhatsApp’s own terms and conditions of use, as well as Leapfrog’s principles for participation. The project is running in weekly cycles, where we send out tasks to the participants to complete and upload to the group WhatsApp forum, which has also required careful forward planning. 

As this project unfolds, we will keep you updated on our progress and how we get on using the social media platform for co-design.