Liberty Resources is the Center for Independent Living for the Philadelphia downtown area, which advocates for and works with people with disabilities to ensure their civil rights and equal access to all aspects of life in their community.
The goal was to research the nursing facility transition process and design a prototype to make this process easier for the user. The challenges we faced include Designing with accessibility in mind, building trust with client and users, using clear non-designer language, and finishing the project within the time constraints of a semester
We observed very early that the culture at Liberty Resources is open and organic. Our initial goal was to build trust and rapport with both Nancy and Norma. This was easy because everyone is friendly and open to newcomers. In their eyes, by us being there, that was enough to trust us. This meant it was easy to make decisions and move in the direction we felt was necessary. We felt it was important to understand a users journey and began interviewing users that have made the transition already and mapping our understanding
The Advocate system at Liberty Resources was implemented to help Consumers move out of nursing facilities. The Advocate meeting allowed us to do initial networking and research. It gave us a chance to meet individuals who have already moved from nursing facilities. The Advocates are given four Consumers, a month, to help transition and can only work a maximum of eight hours in that month.
The Advocate meetings are very loose and unstructured. Which makes it very confusing. We observed that the Advocates lack structure. Several individuals forgot what they needed to do and much information had to be retained from their visits to the nursing facilities.
We set up visits to shadow Advocates at the nursing facilities. We had a chance to observe the interaction between the consumer, advocate, and nursing facility staff. By concentrating more on the process we were able to observe the steps taken by the advocate and consumer.
I found that staff of the nursing facility are busy and do not have time to manage all consumer needs. Meaning, the consumer is left to manage their own needs. Social workers are required by the facility to work with the advocate and consumer and act as a middleman by facilitating the transition. However, the social worker is often vacant from the process due to high demand.
The consumer often feels lost in the process. Also they have no way of tracking what they need to do. Many Advocates are sloppy and untrained. We feel Advocates should inform the Consumer about what steps are left and must do better at tracking progress.
We chose a workshop format because we wanted to create a sense of connectedness, coownership and responsibility with the residents of the community. A workshop is a good platform to begin this conversation because it brings residents together into the same space and allows them to accomplish a common goal together.
In order to meet the immediate needs of speeding up the transition process at Liberty Resources, we designed the Liberty Cards as a tangible tool. It can provide the Consumers in nursing facilities with the first six steps of the transition process.
We felt it would be important to understand how the process would be packaged. Thinking of format, style,and material we collaborated, discussed, and visualized.
Considering the physical limitations of the user, we tried out different structures of our prototypes, for instance, lamination (protected and spill proof), binding ring (aybe more feasible to the user with hand disabilities), accordion binding (easily remove steps of the process to feel accomplishment)
After we identified the budget issue at Liberty Resources, the Liberty Cards were designed half the size of normal print paper, allowing the staff at Liberty Resources to easily print and cut.
From our observation in the advocacy meeting, we found and concluded the pros and cons of the different construction forms of the Liberty Cards. For instance, in some versions, cards easily fell to the floor. In others, it was difficult to turn the pages or bound pages were too loose to control.
As our semester came to a close, we presented to our client recommendations about how to make the packet. Currently, the Liberty Cards are being used by consumers and advocates. In the first round, volunteers of Liberty Resources created 40 booklets for consumers to be used and tested. The current iterations are in the hands of our client and can easily be adjusted or refined.