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10 Principles of Service Design

Best practice

There is a growing understanding of the kind of approaches that can help people in the Revolving Doors situation to overcome their problems and turn their lives around.

Informed by desistance and recovery theory, by our own development work in local areas and by listening to the experiences of our Experts by Experience, we have identified 10 emerging principles that underpin effective service design.


1. 'Someone on your side’

An effective service identifies every opportunity to build consistent, positive and trusting relationships.

2. Assertive and persistent

A service should embrace the belief that people are capable of turning their lives around even after severe challenges. It should not give up on them. This requires continuous and consistent support over a prolonged period, responding positively and constructively to setbacks.

3. Tailored

Services should allow a personalised approach which addresses the full, often complex range of an individual’s needs. They must also be culturally sensitive to the needs of specific groups including women, people of black and minority ethnic backgrounds and young adults.

4. Building on strengths

The service should allow a person to recognise and develop their own personal strengths. Providers should always see beyond a ‘bundle of needs and problems’ to recognise positive attributes.
Magnifying Glass

5. Coordinated and seamless

The service must be in touch with the bigger picture, with an awareness of and links to other services so that everything joins up around the service user. This helps to ensure continuous support across key transitions, avoiding gaps in care.
Upward chart

6. Flexible and responsive

Human beings are fallible and no service can anticipate every turn of events. The service should therefore have the built-in flexibility to react quickly and continue supporting people in a crisis.

7. No ‘wrong door’

If a service provider cannot provide support in a given situation they should own the problem, automatically taking responsibility for connecting the person with someone who can help.

8. Trauma informed

Service providers must understand the true extent of the emotional and behavioural impact on people of a traumatic childhood and life experiences. Staff must also be aware of the risk that vicarious trauma presents to themselves. A soundly designed service will include measures to avoid re-traumatisation of the service user, encouragement of reflective practice and help with building resilience to support recovery.

9. Co-produced

All our work is centred on our belief that effective services cannot be designed in isolation. To be sure that services provide relevant solutions to people’s real-world needs they must always be considered in close partnership with people who have actually experienced the crisis-crime cycle of The Revolving Door.
Big Ben

10. Strategically supported

Effective service design always has the buy-in of senior strategic stakeholders.