Camphill Village Trust

A digital platform to support adults with learning disabilities.

CVT Resident

"This is a safe place for residents to learn and grow and feel happy."

Camphill Village Trust (CVT) are a national charity supporting adults with learning disabilities. People are supported to be independent in their homes, provided with opportunities to develop vocational skills in supported work and be active in the community through social and cultural activities. Support is provided to over 400 people in nine urban and rural communities across England.

CVT has always looked to be innovative. The charity encourages people to take a more active role by co-producing projects that have a real impact in their communities. The charity is committed to developing the Learn to Lead approach to co-production, which enables people to work together in teams and bring about the positive changes they wish for. The outcomes have been transformational for CVT. People have grown in confidence, self-esteem and ownership, and the whole culture has changed to one where people are actively co-producing transformational projects. The new CONNECT website App supports this approach.

The Design Challenge:

The success of co-production is dependent on innovative ways for people to collaborate together, share ideas, find information and turn plans into actions. This has been a significant challenge when people with disabilities are in different locations.

The ‘GOT IT’ team (a group of residents from Gloucestershire) recognised that people with learning disabilities are increasingly using digital technology. They had noticed the growing use of tablets and smart phones amongst their peers, but felt anxious about using social networking sites due to complexity and perceived risks associated with sharing personal information.

Keen to explore how digital technology could support the charity, CVT commissioned Made Open to co-design a digital App so that people could stay informed, collaborate on projects and develop digital skills.

Our process:

Every aspect of ‘CONNECT’ has been co-designed by the people who are using it. Their initial brief was simple in that it has to be highly intuitive and easy to use.

The app has been designed around four key functions:

  • Create a personal profile

The profile replicates a one page profile as often used in people’s support plans or care files. The benefit of doing this digitally is that it takes this important information from being hidden in a file to something that is dynamic and owned by the person, it is easy to update. Staff and Trustees are also encouraged to create a profile so that the people they support can learn more about the people supporting them.

People can also create a ‘personal wall’. This is a space where they can use words, photos, symbols and emojis to plan everyday activities. Each user can choose who they wish to share their profile with, including their friends and support workers.

  • Share Ideas

Users can create a shared wall around a theme or idea. People can choose to join a shared wall created by others and contribute ideas by placing a ‘postie’ with either copy, a photo, symbol or emoji to express their thoughts or attach a document.

  • Work together

Creating a digital platform ensures people can plan and work together without having to be in the same location. Once a wall is created, people can make plans to co-produce projects together. There is also a resource section where people can browse and select from a constantly updated digital library.

  • Keep Informed

The digital noticeboards are linked to where people live and work. There are also noticeboards where trustees and staff can post accessible information and policies. Having digital noticeboards ensures that the people with disabilities have updated information that they need to enable them to make choices. It is also one way in which people can use digital media to share their ideas and have direct link with the governance of the charity.

The Outcomes:

CONNECT encourages people to network digitally but with additional safeguards of local administrators who know each person in their CVT community and offer help to ensure people have full control over what they do.

Positive impact includes:

  • People having co-produced an APP and developed skills through this process.
  • People are using the sharing walls to support work on their projects.
  • The charity is building more equal relationships between staff and the people they support through mutual sharing of profiles.
  • People are able to influence the direction of their community and the charity through improved information sharing and communication.
  • It is fun and supports social interaction through technology.

In the future the hope is the benefits of CONNECT can be transformational in other support services for disabled people.