collective voice

Thanks for dropping by our blog page. Our team of over 60 full-time experts use the latest thinking in behavioural design and enablement via our people-shaped methodology to Make Better Happen for individuals, organisations and communities. Our specialisms of applied behavioural insights, design through co-creation and leading-edge social marketing and engagement are at the core of all that we do. Our mission is to be part of a society that is well, confident and resilient. If we can help you take a journey to be your best self, please call us on 0845 5193 423 - our promise to you is that we never settle for second best.

Can promoting healthy living protect your income?

November 2, 2017 16:53

Money, employment, family and home life, health and wellbeing - which of these are important to your customers?

Unsurprisingly, our research with social housing customers revealed that all of these factors are vitally important to them, and that they all support their fundamental aspiration for a safe and secure future for themselves, their children and their families.

However, what was of particular interest is that each of these priorities has a direct effect on the other, which traps some customers in a downward spiral that they find difficult to break. For example, a primary barrier to gaining employment is not lack of skills or experience. Rather, it is believed to be poor mental and physical health and wellbeing. Not being able to secure employment affects a customer’s ability to earn money, which creates uncertainty around maintaining a home. This causes stress and anguish, which have a detrimental impact upon their mental and physical health and wellbeing:

So what can we do to help your customers to break this cycle, become more financially secure, achieve their aspiration and protect your income by paying their rent on time?

Recently, the King’s Fund reported that individuals from lower socio-economic and educational groups are five times more likely to engage in a number of unhealthy behaviour at once such as smoking, eating takeaways, drinking alcohol, consuming ready meals and engaging in low-level fixed odds betting.

When these behaviours are combined with trying to manage money on a low-level fixed income, making ends meet can be really challenging, particularly for those who are trying to manage their budget and financial commitments under Universal Credit. We’ve found that by working together, we can help to improve the health, wellbeing and welfare of your customers whilst protect your income.

We can help

At ICE, our social marketing and behaviour change specialists have worked extensively with housing customers across the country to create a programme that not only supports an improvement in health and wellbeing, but also financial stability.

We call it GET MON£YSMART, and it received the top award for Behaviour Change Innovation at the World Behavioural Science Nudge Awards.

It is a structured, multichannel social marketing programme designed to engage, educate and empower your customers to make small, incremental changes to unhealthy lifestyle behaviours that also benefit their finances.

This effective and engaging programme protects your income by supporting your customers to:

  • Improve their health and wellbeing by reducing their unhealthy behaviours
  • Reduce spending on non-essential items
  • Pay their rent on time, and not fall into arrears.

The campaign theme and resources can be tailored easily to fit your corporate brand, and the communications and engagement plan can be shaped to meet your specification.

To take a look at our GET MON£YSMART case study or to find out more about how we can co-create a bespoke solution to meet your needs, contact Chris Lunn: 0845 5193 423/

Is it time to get on board with the online wellbeing disruptors?

November 18, 2016 10:06

Easy answer – yes. But for a start, let’s commit heresy, and ditch the word ‘disruptor’. It’s already stopped being a useful concept and is now a meaningless buzzword.

The simple fact is that healthcare and wellbeing are branching out and embracing new ways of reaching more people in more effective ways. As health and wellbeing services in the UK are, in the main, commissioned (and often delivered) by the NHS and local authorities, new technology is having a significant impact.

So what does this mean for providers and commissioners like you? It’s all about understanding the consumer, as a recent report by PWC explains.

Our health and wellbeing platform at is based on a huge amount of qualitative research with people all over the UK and quantitative analysis of data. This research produced some genuine insight into their needs:

  • People want to do more for themselves but don’t want to be dependent on a traditional local ‘service’ to get results
  • People have great aspirations for their families
  • People are fed up with the traditional support model for lifestyle services
  • People are fed up with silos of support and want services joined up
  • People distrust local authorities and ‘Government’ and want to do things for themselves
  • People made little differentiation between NHS and ‘Government’

Puffell is based on these fundamental principles and is now being used across the UK as a front line ‘shop window’ of lifestyle services for citizens to get key information about lifestyles and long term conditions, set goals and track their progress. Service providers use the sophisticated back end as a case management tool, allowing them to provide the right level of support to every type of person locally – from those who need full on face to face support and interventions to those who just need signposting to the right tools, as well as everyone in between.

The good news is that however the user is supported, commissioners and providers are able to understand how whole populations are making lifestyle improvements and where to target their resources most effectively as a result.

And we are seeing it work: smokers are reducing the average amount smoked per day[1]; people are reducing the amount of alcohol units they consume each day[2]; and people tracking their weight are showing an average 4% body weight reduction[3].

A report by Appboy earlier this year showed that less than 20% of new health and fitness app users return the day after they first download it. Yet Puffell has proved to be used consistently over time by people trying to make a lifestyle change. Unlike other apps, you actually get to see the anonymous data behind it for your area.

Puffell is the only dedicated platform that has been developed in partnership with NHS CCGs, hospital trusts, community trusts, local authorities and Public Health England, and is endorsed by the NHS Innovation team.

It’s time to get on board with Puffell to support your citizens with lifestyle, wellbeing and long term conditions management.

To find out how you can get involved, contact Stuart Jackson on 0845 5193 423 or at

[1] Mean reduction of 7.4 cigarettes smoked over average of 158 days

[2] Mean difference of 4.3 units tracked per day over average of 127 days

[3] Mean difference of 3.1 kg tracked over average of 168 days

Puffell Update

August 1, 2016 12:07

Here at Puffell, we’ve recently celebrated our third birthday. Our third year began at the Health+Care conference and we were able to have so many fantastic conversations. People are becoming increasingly interested in the outcomes we can show to date, which is always exciting and encouraging.


We have reached some big milestones in the last 12 months. There are now more than 5,500 users active on Puffell, and this is increasing every single day. As the community gets larger, we are seeing more engagement across the groups.

Asthma and Viral Wheeze:

We recently launched a number of new spaces on Puffell for you all to use. The first of these was the launch of the asthma and viral wheeze space for adults and the asthma and viral wheeze space for children. Both of the spaces contain information, advice and tips about asthma and viral wheeze. It is there to help you manage your asthma and viral wheeze, allowing you to do more of what you want, when you want to do it.  


The chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) deck was our second addition in the last 12 months, offering a space for anyone with COPD to manage their long-term condition and to help keep it under control.

Both the asthma and viral wheeze and COPD spaces offer the ability to create a digital diary, as well as along for cross reference with air pollution and humidity levels. This means that you can recognise and keep track of any trends or patterns.


Our pilot for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) is now live in the Slough region. This space has been developed because young people have been waiting for long periods of time to access support. Puffell is designed to support young people whom can self manage and we are working with the CAMHS team to refer any young people who need service-based intervention.

Health Checks:

We have also had a great opportunity through the development of our digital health checks space. We are in the process of launching a dedicated health checks space where you can get your heart age and then see the impact of your day-to-day life on your heart age. We have been involved in helping to map the national strategy for health checks with Public Health England (PHE), which Puffell will support by offering a digital platform for Health Checks.


Our bespoke diabetes space is also in development and will be launched later this year. This is a great place for anyone with diabetes to track their condition, as well as writing down what their personal aspirations and goals to determine how best to achieve them.

We strive to demonstrate positive behaviour change; over the last 12 months we can demonstrate positive behaviour change on Puffell.

The above image demonstrates the behaviour change we are starting to see - over an average of 127 days, an average of 4.3 less units were consumed every day; over an average of 158 days there has been an average reduction in cigarettes smoked per day by 7.4 and over an average of 168 days, an average reduction of 3.1kg (that’s half a stone!) has been made.

As you can see, it’s been a very busy year and we hope, with you, the next 12 months brings just as much excitement!

Why not invite your friends and join in the party.

To find out more about Puffell and how it can support you, contact Stephen Theobald on 0151 647 4700 or at stephen.theobald@icecreates,com

Digital Innovation - Online Interventions for Improving Wellbeing, Condition Self-management and Achieving Behaviour Change

June 30, 2016 12:33

How do web-based interventions improve wellbeing, physical health and mental health?

This ICE Yellow Paper focuses on the importance of good physical, mental and emotional health, as well as the evidence and action - the case for creating an online health ecosystem:

Digital Innovation - Online Interventions for Improving Wellbeing, Condition Self-management and Achieving Behaviour Change

Part 2 - Nature & Nurture - a Story About Transformation for Success

June 24, 2016 15:21

Sonny looked through the paperwork and sighed. “Oh dear!” he said. “That is a lot to worry about but don’t bluster, Mrs Fluster, our transformation and integration teams have everything in hand.”

“I’m afraid not,” said Mrs Fluster. “Our teams are really worried and confused. No-one can agree a way forward that will cost less money. Everyone wants to help and be brave, but they’re scared of taking risks."

“Now, Mrs Fluster, calm yourself,” said Sonny. “We’re not on our own and there is a way to make our community grow and flourish. Yes. Yes, indeed. The solution lies in gardening!”

“Gardening?” said Mrs Fluster. “You’re not making any sense!”

“Oh, but don’t you see, Mrs Fluster? Gardening is how we’ll do it! With gardening, we’ll all know where we’re going and how we’re going to get there.”

He went on to explain: “Think of us like a garden. You can’t leave it to sort itself out. Fruitful, productive gardens need both nature and nurture.”

How to make your garden grow

Firstly, you need to know your garden - the type of soil, its plants and the plants you want to grow. Which parts are exposed to the wind, which need to be in the shade? This is like insight into what’s really happening and what is really important to your teams. A word of caution! It must be grounded in truth and everyone given a voice.

The next step is to create the right environment for growth in your garden. Your Leadership does this. Don’t forget to add nutrients to feed it – resources and support for people to agree what is important to them; to make difficult decisions, explore the art of the possible and be creative with ideas that will add value. And water – the free flow of communication and exchange of information, making it all safer for your teams to experiment and flourish.

Now that you’re all prepared, you can start to plant and create new things. Remember to work together, co-create it, and pay attention to what is important to everyone and everything in your garden. After all, in your garden you need to know which plants and seeds flourish where, and when to plant them to get the best from them.

Your plants need plenty of nurturing and encouragement along the way. For leaders, this means being out in your teams and the community, regularly telling simple and personalised stories, connecting people to the vision. Think about the newly established plants and saplings in your garden. You have to encourage the roots to go down deep. Values and emotional connections are just like the roots of your new saplings. Your stories need to grow and stay in people’s minds, so use metaphors and pictures to reinforce your stories. This needs time, just as you wouldn’t keep pulling up saplings to check they are growing as that would quickly kill them!

So, allow your garden to grow. For sure, some plants may be in the wrong place and need moving. Weeds will come and need pulling out and you’ll need to make sure it gets plenty of water and ongoing care.

But, with plenty of water, the right care and guidance, this approach will help your garden to thrive throughout the seasons.

To be continued...

Carers - one of society's greatest hidden assets

June 8, 2016 09:46

Social isolation is defined as a complete or near-complete lack of contact with people and society.

Owing to its profound negative impact on health and wellbeing, reducing social isolation is a key priority for many local authorities.

We recently explored the experiences of carers to:

  • Understand the causes of social isolation for carers
  • Identify what carers need to prevent or manage social isolation
  • Explore the wider impacts of caring responsibilities.

Read more:

Insight Research - Social Isolation in Carers Case Study

NHS Health Check Case Study

January 22, 2016 13:13

NHS Health Check Case Study

How to increase NHS Health Check uptake in your area 

Read more... NHS Health Check Case Study

To take advantage of our successful model and the support we can provide please see our case study or contact Graeme Morgan on 0797 357 8337 or at

NHS Vanguard sites – hold co-creative, meaningful engagement events that bring your vision, discussions and ideas to life!

January 20, 2016 09:20


Help your local health population, workforce and partners understand where you’re going – even better, take them with you!

Vanguard sites have already proven themselves by securing the opportunity to boldly implement new models of healthcare.


As the NHS looks to break the mould and deliver new services that build on the foundations laid down in the 5 Year Forward View, they will all need to connect with their local population, workforce and partners in order to secure buy-in and shape their approach. ICE can work with you to host meaningful, collaborative engagement sessions where everyone has an opportunity to share their ideas and, just as importantly, they see those ideas recorded and transformed right before their eyes.

“…I was really impressed with what he was producing…we are looking to organise a patient feedback event involving children and this type of interactive and fun recording would be perfect for it.” – Dr Avril McCarthy, MedTech Lead NIHR Devices for Dignity HTC 

When engagement techniques and their outputs fail to connect with their audience, we tend to see:

  • A lack of opportunity for citizens/staff/partners to have their say or learn from one another’s experiences
  • Alienated individuals that don’t see how they fit into the picture or how the vision will work for them
  • Wordy documents that don’t capture the buy-in or imagination of the audience

What happens if you provide a level arena for conversation and ideas to form together, along with clean questioning and vibrant visuals?

Our change practitioners will help you to tell your story with everyone in the room included, and all of it is captured onto your very own graphic visualisation by our gifted scribes.

What can our co-creative graphic visualisations give you as the hosting organisation?

  • Focused insight to unlock belief systems and create a unified energy amongst individuals

  • A visual set of iconic metaphor-centred reminders, owned by everyone who took part

  • Incredible visuals - readily available to share, promote and revisit the conversation

  • Assurance that the audience understands the purpose of your discussion and that their input feeds it's objectives

What benefits do your audience receive?

  • Captivating facilitation that drives productive conversation, whatever their learning preference or confidence.

  • They won’t feel that they are being influenced into a certain response thanks to our clean questioning approach and open discussion

  • They are more likely to buy into the ideas being discussed as they can see their input is being captured and appreciated/debated by others in the room

For more information see our Graphic Scribes Booklet and call us on 0151 647 4700 or email


Improved Tenant Experience from Repairs

January 14, 2016 10:15


One thing the ICE insight team find is that a tenant’s experience of reactive repairs clouds their view of many other services supplied by the housing provider. Further, this insight also shows that tenants will not strive for or achieve personal growth (in skills, wellbeing, employment etc) when the basics are not right. Repairs are one of these basic requirements; this is true whether it’s a local authority or a housing association.

The quotes below are from our insight work with a housing association and are not unusual:

“I’ve been trying to get this leak fixed in my roof. They said I should talk to them, but they have been a pain.”

“It’s bad… we had about an eight week battle to get the patio doors fixed.”

ICE is currently working within the sector to help organisations enhance the services and support provided to tenants, and to understand the benefits that a tenant focused repairs service can deliver. It’s worth remembering that reporting a repair is the most common interaction between tenants and their housing provider, and we all know how important that relationship is to both parties.

Working with Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, our service review identified that over 30% of contacts received were from tenants chasing the progress of their repair. This volume was higher than those contacts where tenants reported a repair. This one statistic alone gives real insight into how tenants perceive the service they are provided with, and was the catalyst for the council’s desire to transform.

Here’s how it worked…

The work was based on the ICE model for service transformation, where our experienced practitioners help staff transform their own services - after all, “those who create, own”.

It began with stakeholder meetings designed to set up the work cleanly by building relationships across the service and with wider stakeholders to ensure the most value from the review.

Then followed the explore stage, where a team representing the whole of the service was brought together to create a current state map.  This visual representation of the in-scope work included the demands placed on the service by its customers, the flow of work and data to show the performance of the systems, as well as details of the root cause of reactive repairs.

The envisage stage then allowed the team to present these findings back to the wider stakeholder group at a vision workshop, ranging from tenant representatives to the executive management team. It was at this event that areas for improvement were agreed, and buy-in from across the organisation was gained. This buy-in was vital to ensure that any changes would be sustained in the future.

Through a period of experimentation, operatives, charge-hands and team managers were given the ability to use innovative solutions to the issues they faced.  They used an agreed methodology that built upon the principles of systems thinking to guide them, and measured the changes made against an agreed set of customer focused performance measures.

What did it achieve?

As well as virtually eliminating the failure demand chasing the progress of a repair, the team has reduced the time for reporting to completing the repair by over 50%, with plumbing repairs now running at an average of less than 2 days.

Reduced repair times have also had a knock-on effect to the “no access rate”, which had been a major cause of waste within the system.

It is still early days, and January sees a period where ICE will support the services to embed these changes and make them business as usual.

For more information contact 0151 647 04700


Life at ICE

December 16, 2015 11:00

Those of you who are in regular contact with me will know that I have recently taken an exciting opportunity to explore a new chapter in my career. The plot remains similar as I continue with the passion I have for Health & Care, whilst growing the fascination for Organisational Development  - combining creative initiatives and innovation wherever possible.

I now find myself two months in and, at ICE Creates, my early experiences have been incredible! Allow me to shed some light on being the new guy.

First off is the fact I get to see this almost every day!

With my HQ situated on the banks of the River Mersey, I only have to lift my head above my monitor to take in the refreshing sights.

When you start at ICE, if the scenery doesn’t hit you first, the energy in the office definitely will. Like

a surge in a crowd at a rock gig, it will literally lift you and take you with it.

The team have been so welcoming and I have found it humbling to be accepted at pace into the family.

I use the word ‘family’ to its full, too. ICE has an impressive portfolio (Organisational/Leadership Development, Graphic Design, Digital, Marketing, Communications and Insights).

It can dip into craft valuable solutions, yet it does so within a relatively small, tight-knit group of people who take great pride in supporting each other.

Talking of support and family, what do you make of this year’s Christmas adverts? Good old JL set the ball in motion with ‘the man on the moon’, shortly followed by ‘Mog’ and all the others. What certainly seems to be a trend this time around is that most are trying to support a charity of some description. Now that’s very decent of them, but in my opinion, they have been slightly too whimsical in their approach to something that is in fact very real! Fortunately, many of my colleagues felt the same and we wanted to follow our thoughts up with actions.

With a relatively miniscule budget (certainly not £7million) and two mobile phones, we set about trying to show what people can achieve with small acts of kindness, closer to home, where we live. The outcome of this can be seen in the video below:

We loved every minute of making that short video, and hope others will feel compelled to complete similar acts of kindness? One friend told me she had taken a box of non-perishable food to her local sheltered home and they were delighted by such a simple yet thoughtful gesture.

So what of my first two months then? One thing is for sure thus far at ICE, no two days are the same. Opportunity is permanent and inspiration has no boundaries. I can’t sum up the excitement I have right now, but hopefully this blog is a clue. Perhaps I’ll touch base with you all in another two months, perhaps we could talk sooner…

Call me on 0151 647 4700 or Email