What is involved?

This phase is about gaining a deeper understanding of the problem. This is done by learning from the lived experience of those who use and deliver the service.

This involves looking at the data you have about your problem, and looking outwards, to the data and insights you don’t yet have. ACI redesign methodology covers the key steps of capturing data as part of diagnostics.

Within NSW local health districts, the local Business Analytics and Consumer and Community Participation teams may be able to provide additional guidance.

As a co-design project, consumers and health service staff will be working together to capture the lived experience. There are some key steps you will build into your approach to ensure your project is set up for partnering.

How: key steps

Use creative ways to observe and understand the experience of people who use and deliver services. Focus on critical points – good and bad moments that matter, and the emotions associated with these moments.


Run a focus group with consumers and ask them to share their experience of your service. Also interview carers and family members about what worked for them. Using visual and audio techniques to record consumer and staff experience can be a meaningful way to engage stakeholders.

  • Map what you know and don’t know using the Gather the experience tool – identify where there are gaps in your knowledge.

  • Decide who you need to learn from (think outside the box; possibly even outside of health).
  • Decide how you want to learn from them (observation, interviews, diary study, etc).
  • Double-check ethics considerations (don’t panic, often this is minimal for redesign and quality improvement work).

Who is involved?

At this point, your team will be up and running and the best approach is to have everyone involved gathering the lived experience. Agree together who will do what to plan and run this phase.

Read more about the co-design team.


Having just one or two consumers and health service staff on your project team won’t be enough to be confident that the experience of ALL consumers or staff is well represented. Capturing many perspectives on the same problem will create confidence that you are focusing on the most important problems to solve. For the ACI Low Vision project, NSW Health staff and consumers from the project team paired up to co-facilitate patient interviews.

Check out the consumer partnership foundations pages for more ideas.

Key challenges and ideas to address them

CuriosityValuing diversity and individualityCommunicationCommitment to co-design

Working with Aboriginal communities

Refer to our guide on how to apply the 8 Aboriginal Ways of Learning in your co-design project.

Land linksLearning mapsStory sharingDeconstruct reconstructNon-verbalNon-linearSymbols and images

Useful resources

Working with consumers templates

See our resource library for templates to assist health services in informing consumers about how they can be involved in a co-design project.

Other resources

See our tools and resources to support the Gather phase.

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