CareSouth foster carers provide homes for young people not living with their families. Recognising the role of carers is becoming more complex, and all families are different, CareSouth partnered with Meld Studios to coach an internal team to better understand issues faced by foster carers and how to support them.
Carers provide 24/7 support for vulnerable young people, assist in maintaining relationships with family and deal with challenging behaviours daily: all while managing jobs, families, and their regular responsibilities.
Key challenges for carers include:
A long on-boarding process with inconsistent support;
Communication gaps and misaligned expectations;
Theoretical training that doesn't always help with tricky real-life situations;
Hard, sad goodbyes;
Lack of a dedicated CareSouth person to provide understanding and support.
CareSouth wanted to better understand these challenges and explore - together with carers - how to better support them.
In 2019, CareSouth engaged Meld Studios as a co-design coach. Our goal was to ensure their team had the confidence and skills to independently undertake design work, with "just enough" support over the year.
Our shared aims were to:
Deeply understanding experiences of carers who support vulnerable young people;
Generate and test solutions CareSouth can implement to better support foster carers they work with;
Build design capability of CareSouth staff undertaking an end-to-end co-design project.
Our coaching role included:
Fortnightly sessions starting with a kickoff, then focusing on:
Reflections, challenges, learnings
The theory underpinning the design work
Practising the design work ahead
Getting clear on what the team would do before the next session.
Concepts co-designed with carers included:
An annual carer survey to understand them and provide targeted support when needed
A range of new communication methods and channels
A book on each young person, providing critical information for carers
Fostering a relationship between carers and After Hours support staff
Creating spaces and groups for carers to connect and build supportive relationships.
CareSouth has moved forward with all five of the service concepts co-designed with carers.
Take a look at CareSouth's video about this project.
This work was endorsed by the CareSouth Board because these concepts will:
Improve carer experiences during on-boarding, training, handovers, caring and saying "good-bye"
Enable CareSouth to attract and retain a larger pool of confident, informed, empathetic carers who are better able to handle complex challenges
Increase the number of caring homes offering refuge to vulnerable young people.