A services specification with a difference

Creating a service specification for Children and Young People’s Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Services to inspire innovative responses from providers.

Bromley CCG
October - December 2018
Partnership advice, Research, Report writing, Graphic design

What we were asked to do

We were commissioned to work with Bromley CCG to develop their service specification for Children and Young People’s Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Services. The ambition was to create a different style of document that inspired innovative responses from providers. There was a tight timeline.

The requirement was to work collaboratively with the Commissioning Manager to compile, edit and typeset the specification. We were excited from the beginning to think about the visual element of the document that would appeal to all audiences, champion young people’s voices and experiences and demonstrate a different approach to commissioning in order to generate creative and collaborative responses from providers.

What we did

We developed a 4 week timeline to get a version ready for internal feedback to be followed 1-2 weeks later by a day to incorporate feedback and prepare a print ready version.

We used all the expertise of our team – Anna’s project, organisational and researching skills and her communication and campaign know how, Helen’s co-production and communities experience and Linda’s specialist area of collaborative contracting and procurement. And not forgetting Sarah, one of our graphic designers.

It was really important for us to write and create a visual style that mirrored the aspiration for the new services – about being people centred, asset based and innovative. We worked to ‘de-service speak’ text and wording from existing materials if there was a lot of jargon and acronyms. Wherever possible, text was written or adapted to come from a person’s perspective rather than from a service perspective.

We needed to balance the intent and givens for the commissioner with creating a sense of wanting to hear from innovative potential bidders who can bring new ideas and ambition.

We didn’t want to overload the document with facts, figures and graphs but needed to give enough information to those outside of the area to be able to decide if they would like to express an interest. We were also keen to acknowledge the hard work already put in by local people and providers.

And finally we aimed to tell a story, a coherent inspiring narrative, that anyone reading it would understand.

What happened

The four weeks from start to finish was a gamble for us, especially as we all have other projects we were working on. The client was great, giving us access to all their base material from the outset and being available for a weekly phone call. We were able to mix in advice about outcomes, procurement route and service issues as we went along so this was about more than just collating and typesetting.

The final specification was presented as a brochure which has been sent out to providers and was very well received.

“I really felt empowered working with the Ideas Alliance team. They echoed children and young people’s voices and experiences in an innovative way.”

Nazmin Mansuria, Senior Commissioning Manager, NHS Bromley CCG
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