At the heart of co-design: Using an empathy map to uncover youth and family experiences

Co-design, co-production, design thinking – sound familiar? This presentation will go beyond the buzzwords and focus on applying step 1 of the design thinking process using an empathy map and we will share lessons learned on applying these methods with diverse stakeholder groups, specifically youth and family. This presentation will draw from our experiences in the Improving Treatment Together project. The goal of the project is to improve experiences of opioid use treatment services for young people, their families and for the service providers who provide these services for young people. The project aims to achieve this goal by developing youthcentered resources for youth opioid use treatment services and to implement and evaluate the impact of these products with community partners. The project utilized a community-based co-design framework that positions these stakeholder groups (youth, family members, and service providers) as the experts in identifying and designing solutions to improving treatment services.

Presenters and slide deck

Faria Khan, Provincial Initiatives Consultant, Alberta Health Services

Faria Khan has been working in healthcare for over 7 years. She completed her Master’s in Public Health and is now working in Mental Health and Addictions for Alberta Health Services. Her focus lies on improving opioid-related treatments and services for youth by engaging with youth with lived experience, families and service providers across Alberta. She is currently involved in different Provincial and National projects to address the on-going opioid crisis affecting youth through the Improving Treatment Together Project and the At-Risk Youth and Newer Users project for CRISM (Canadian Research Initiatives on Substance Misuse).

Jordan Melnychuk, Youth Team Member

I am Jordan, a 27 year old male, passionate about people, music and sharing the wisdom of our own unique experiences. With lived addiction and mental health experience, I bring knowledge and understanding to the table. I've worked on the Edmonton Opioid Response Initiative and am involved with the working group that brought iOAT in Alberta to life. The last year, I have been involved with YAMHPAC and the ITT Project through various consultations, presentations, and facilitations.

Kayle Vig, Youth Team Member

Kayly Vig is 23 years old, born and raised in Grande Prairie, Alberta. She has lived experience with substance use. She currently works with Alberta Health Services as a youth advisor for the Youth Addiction and Mental Health Provincial Advisory Council (YAMH PAC) and she is involved with the Improving Treatment Together Project as a youth champion. In her free time, she likes snowboarding and spending time with her dog who has been by her side throughout her recovery.

Corinne Tallon, Youth Team Member


Key Learnings

  • Co-design is one creative way of working with your youth and family partners to create ideas/solutions to better serve them.
  • Design thinking requires a number of steps starting with understanding your stakeholders.
  • Empathy mapping is one of many ways to get to know your stakeholders at a deeper, more meaningful level.

Empathy Map

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