This week we entered the next stage of developing our persona work. 

As Simon Penny has written previously - personas help us to understand people in a wider context than our services alone.  Accordingly we have conducted in-depth interviews with residents to get to know how their use their homes, what they value, and their relationship to Bromford. 

On Tuesday we began to bring the results of the interviews together - to spot keys themes and behaviours. 

It's easy to assemble a set of user characteristics and call it a persona, but it's not so easy to create personas that are truly effective design and communication tools. Good personas are realistic, not idealised and assume the attributes of several real people.

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Some of the issues that came out of the session:

  • People (surprise, surprise) don't conform to stereotypes. The older person who appears vulnerable is actually highly digitally skilled and connected. 
  • Customer behaviours and attitudes towards the home differ greatly - some people have the skill to look after it well but don't have the will, or the confidence. 
  • Community is ever present in people's lives , but as service providers we tend to view services as a more binary transaction.  Many people spoke of having a go at things themselves - using family networks or other social contacts. 
  • Some people do adopt deficit-thinking about their abilities, their health, the quality of their environment. It's important that 'service providers' don't further entrench this by grouping people as vulnerable or lower skilled. 
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At Bromford - we know that we can't reduce people to a convenient series of boxes. We can't solve one issue in isolation as it is often influenced by everything surrounding it.

The development of our persona work is a step away from designing 'one size fits all services' that - in reality - fit no one at all.