Domestic violence is a serious issue, and public services play a central role in preventing and treating people experiencing or practicing this type of violence. Budfir, Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth, and Family Affairs, invited us to identify opportunities to improve the user experience of the services they offer to families in this situation.
Violence in close relationships is, unfortunately, a problem that is more common than we’d like to think. It’s a complex problem and an issue that carries a stigma and a taboo, making it difficult to get to. Public authorities, including Bufdir, play an essential role in preventing, treating, and supporting both people who experience violence and those who practice it. They invited us to help get a better understanding and knowledge of the users through insight work and help standardise and digitalise the service. We conducted user insight, co-created new user journeys, a set of service principles to guide the new service, as well as designed user journeys, a set of service principles, and concrete suggestions for improved services.
Little knowledge of the services makes it difficult to know where to go and what to expect.User comment during insight work
Better visibility and focus on prevention
Because of the stigma and shame that many people who suffer from domestic violence feel, and the denial of many who practice the violence, they often experience a high threshold to reach out for help. They also feel there’s a lack of information about where to reach out for help and how the process itself works – the service offering needs to be more visible. This became clear in our interviews with the end-users of Bufdir's services.
Hence, we suggested concrete improvements in their information to the public about the issue and the services they offer:
Improved visibility through information and collaboration with everyday arenas such as schools, kindergartens, health services
A simplified process to book an appointment with Bufdir's Familievernet.
Increased visibility for the problem and how the authorities can help should lower the threshold to seek help.
A complex problem that requires collaboration
The more complex and serious the situation, the more stakeholders are involved – in this case, Barnevern (child protective services), police, schools, social services, doctors, etc.
Users find it difficult to navigate the system, having to repeat their case information to different authorities, and often do not manage to get help at the right time. The authorities themselves find it difficult to collaborate due to regulations around secrecy and classified information about individuals (“personvern”) and lack of collaboration systems, making it challenging to provide the best treatment and have a good overview of the situation.
I experience that the different stakeholders do not know what others do and offer. Everyone is on their own, and as a user, you need to grab all the threads and tie them together yourself.User comment during insight work
Motivation, timing, and close follow-up is crucial
Another finding from our insight work with users was that motivation and timing are crucial to change the situation, as these processes often last for years. There is a pressing need to get help when you ask for it and receive follow-up in between treatments to get support to stick to new routines and behaviours. We suggested different action points that can help support the users in the process.
Exemplified different user journeys and how they could work in a complex situation and a simpler situation.
A digital tool* - personal digital guidance throughout the process, a place where the users can follow the process, access material, and work with goals
A toolbox* for the specialist to use in their work with the end-users
The topic of domestic violence is a constant current topic. Especially now, when we're experiencing social restriction measures, it can lead to increased conflict and violence risks in the home. It's all the more critical that we work to remove the stigma and shame around the topic, that we work with prevention and offer help whenever we see that someone needs it.
*The digital tools have not been implemented yet, but are part of possible future improvements of the services.