Our users are professionals who use ‘Connect families to support’ to complete a form to request a voluntary and community sector (VCS) service contacts a family.

There were concerns that users may try to report safeguarding concerns through the service instead of following their local policy. These concerns may be missed or not picked up immediately.

Our design question was 'How might we inform users that this service is not for reporting safeguarding concerns?'

Content on the start page also informs users not to use the service to report safeguarding concerns. We are currently considering which is the appropriate place in the journey and whether it is necessary to repeat the information.

Original designs asking if anyone in the family is in danger of being harmed

In the original design, once a user had located a service and clicked the ‘connect family to service’ button, their next interaction with the service was the question: ‘is anyone in the family in danger of being harmed?’ If they answered yes, they saw a page that told them:

You cannot use this service

Contact the police if you think someone is in danger or is being harmed.

Call 999 if you are reporting a crime that is in progress or if someone is in immediate danger.

Contact the local police if you think a crime has been committed or contact the local council if you think someone is at risk or is being abused.

What we learned about the safeguarding question

From user research, we learnt that some users found this question jarring at this point in the journey. We also had input from our local authority (LA) partners that the way this question is phrased could prevent professionals from making requests for support for families where there is known risk, but when that is the reason they are being referred.

Replacing the question with an interruption page

We replaced the question with an interruption page. This is better suited to start the form because it removes an unnecessary action for the user. We should only be asking essential questions to reduce cognitive overload for the user.

We used an interruption page design that has been used in the Early years child development training service, and other services in Department for Education (DfE). This pattern has been submitted to the DfE design system for consideration. The page has a blue background with white text - it is visually different to any other pages in the service - the idea being to draw users attention to the important information.

The content we used for the page was:

Do not use this service to report safeguarding concerns
Follow the safeguarding policies in your local area to report any concerns.

Screenshot for interruption page as described above image.

Rather than giving specific instructions on what to do, we informed users to follow safeguarding policies in their local area. We considered that if users were logged in, and we know the area they work in, in the future we might be able to iterate to add a link to their specific safeguarding policies.

Iterating the content on the interruption page

The interruption page tested well with professionals. Our colleagues at the Department for Health and Social Care advised us to link users to the NHS Safeguarding app. The app provides information about how to raise safeguarding concerns in different local authorities. This perfectly meets the need to direct users to the specific safeguarding policy for their area. We have updated the content to direct users to the NHS safeguarding app.

The content is now:

Do not use this service to report safeguarding concerns
Use the NHS safeguarding app for guidance on reporting safeguarding concerns.

This has not yet been tested with users.