Skip to main content

A service design success story. How the Lab’s ‘facilitative/scoping approach’ was used as a catalyst, leading to a solution for a problem long ago identified by several agencies as important, but which no single agency had been able to own or address.

What happened

A service gap was identified following the release of SmartStart (services clustered around childbirth) and Te Hokinga ā Wairua (services clustered around death) – the very patchy support for parents, families and whānau who had suffered the death of a child during pregnancy, at birth or during infancy.

This issue was brought to the Department of Internal Affairs’ Life Events Team which enlisted the Lab to facilitate a day-log hui. Diverse stakeholders were invited: agencies, NGOs and families who had experienced loss. This proved so fruitful a second hui followed.

The Life Events Team then led collaboration with the Ministry of Justice, Inland Revenue and Sands (a non-profit baby loss support organisation) and Catalyst IT to develop an online support resource: Whetūrangitia.

What was the aim

To explore a solution to lack of support for parents, families and whānau who had suffered the death of a child during pregnancy, at birth, or during infancy.

The aim was to see if there was a piece of work that could be explored in either a research or design discovery. These initial conversations are critical in helping peel back the layers and get to understand if there is a potential issue. The Service Innovation Lab’s scoping process is a critical part of clarifying this.

The initial content focussed on navigating the complexities of the coronial process and clarifying financial entitlements, along with support resources for parents. More information, support and resources will be added to the website over time.

Who was involved

  • DIA Life Events team
  • Service Innovation Lab
  • Ministry of Justice
  • Inland Revenue
  • Sands (a non-profit baby loss support organisation)
  • Catalyst IT

Cultural design principle: whānau pani

One of the design principles was based on the Māori concept of whānau pani. Part of tangihanga, this concept describes the process by which those in grief, in this case the bereaved parents, are allowed to be in grief, while those they trust, their whānau pani, do what is required to help them to navigate this time. The site and service is intended to provide whānau pani, enabling parents to be in grief, and to empower them at their time of greatest pain.

Supporting Government goal to create unified public service

A good example of where integrated services can provide a better experience of government, supporting the real needs of people in everyday life. As the groundswell around digital government grows, these types of services will become more common, accessible and be improved continuously. Whetūrangitia is one of a growing number of life event products that has attracted considerable interest from overseas and praise from Government at home.

What was learned

The hui with bereaved parents was undoubtedly the most rewarding part for participants. It built empathy and trusted relationships were developed. It was important to create a safe space for parents to share their stories and experiences about baby loss freely. Their stories shaped the direction of the design and parents remained involved in a feedback loop throughout. You can’t create legislation and policy for a situation such as this without understanding people - identifying this issue properly shows what a great deal of care and integrity the public sector can have.

The power of…

The Lab’s strong emphasis on:

  • collaboration across diverse stakeholders
  • involving all stakeholders in the conversation from the start, including the ‘customer’
  • allowing generous time – to build trust and to ‘turn over as many stones around the issue as possible’ in order to uncover new facets, and to confirm whether this really is the problem
  • or just a symptom of different problem
  • relationship-building; empathy