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Researching ‘life events’ to improve government services

‘Life event’ research allows government to understand important moments in people’s lives, and see how their services assist people through periods of change.

With increasing cost pressures, and continued high demand for government services, agencies across the public sector are looking for ways to improve efficiency while still giving people the support they need. Robust research into how people actually use services and what they need allows government to focus spending where it will have the greatest effect.

Major life events such as birth, education, employment, marriage, family, retirement and death are particularly challenging, since they require multiple interactions with a variety of government services. Services are usually delivered from specific departments or organisational groups, which makes cross-departmental or cross-sector integration of services difficult. To manage these complex challenges, governments have started to conduct research into service provision through the lens of life events.  

From silos to customer-centric life events

Focusing on life events is a useful method that allows organisations to understand how their services fit within the context of people’s everyday lives.

Life events can provide a framework for designing, improving and managing existing services. Aligning services more closely to life events eases people’s distress at their time of highest need. This has a substantial, direct effect on resilience: the ability to bounce back after difficult events.

 

We created a customer journey map to represent the challenges people face around the death of a loved one.

The death of a loved one

The death of a loved one is among the most challenging life events to negotiate. The Digital Transformation Agency engaged Paper Giant to conduct research with people who have recently lost someone close to them, focusing on interactions with government and non-government services.

We captured a diverse range of experiences, from people of different ages, socioeconomic backgrounds, geographic locations, and culturally and linguistically diverse communities, including Aboriginal Australians. We also spoke to service providers in death-related industries including medical staff, lawyers, counsellors, and funeral directors.

Our research revealed that people experiencing the death of a loved one often need to access a lot of government services at once. It can be time-consuming for people to search across multiple government departments to find the relevant services and often people have to provide the same information several times to different agencies. The considerable stress people are under at this time results in them struggling to access the services and information they need.

By researching people’s experience holistically through a  ‘life events’ perspective, we were able to discover insights relevant for many departments and agencies, and make specific, evidence-based recommendations to address the expressed needs of carers, medical staff, emergency responders and people at the end of their life.

Better, more targeted services

Governments can design more responsive customer-centric services by delivering integrated services that address the whole spectrum of needs triggered by major life events. This not only improves the quality and efficiency of the services, but improves outcomes for people who access government services during stressful periods of change. Providing targeted assistance at times of greatest need improves people’s resilience, creating lasting, positive change beyond the individual event.

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