Skill Care - App Design

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With this module, we had to find a way of increasing participation in ‘befriending’ services using digital technology. The current befriending service works with volunteers, pairing them up with an elderly member who otherwise may have little social contact. The service works well but we found, through talking to a befriender, that people quickly become reliant on them. They are expected to offer a level of care they’re not trained to do. We wanted to work on a way of relieving this pressure on the befriender service, while still giving the elderly plenty of contact time.

Our solution was ‘Skill care’. An App that pairs members together based on skills they want to learn and share. For example, a young person could trade their time teaching technology skills to and elderly member, who in return could teach them how to cook. Our hope was the app would boost self-confidence in the elderly and allow them to interact with a more diverse range of people. This may also then reduce pressure on individual befrienders.

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Befrienders also told us that early meetings with elderly members could be awkward and difficult. By introducing teaching skills, the app could allow common ground to be quickly established between the befriender and an elderly member.

We paid careful attention to how we designed the app, being conscious both young and old would need to use it. We needed to make the app inviting and engaging, but still keep it functional and easy to learn, particularly by those with little technological experience. We made sure all the functions were large and clear, and laid out with adequate spacing around them. Accessibility was also considered. We introduced a feature allowing users to customise the text size and activate a high contrast mode, a feature we had observed being used on several befriending service sites.

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