‘Lately’ - an end of life tool connecting people to services in their local area

Image Credit : Harrison Blackmore - Experience Designer at Portable



Project Overview

For many people, talking about death is a new, unfamiliar topic. The system is made up of many moving parts, an overwhelming amount of information without a central place to refer to. On top of this, many services, terminology and concepts around the end of life journey are unknown, making it a topic that feels like hard work, and subsequently avoided.

Knowing this context helped us to define and design a tool that honours people’s deep personal experiences and preferences for accessing, exploring and engaging with services for themselves or their loved ones who are dying.
We researched, designed and created a new digital tool ‘Lately’ in partnership with the North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN) and building from our extensive work in designing new digital tools and services to improve the experience of dying.

Lately is a web-based tool that guides people to the end of life support, services and information they need including medical, emotional and practical support in a user-friendly and accessible way. It also answers questions and helps people have difficult conversations about dying. Lately provides plain language answers to common questions about death and dying, and includes features that facilitate difficult conversations between loved ones.

It was co-designed with people diagnosed with a terminal illness, carers, healthcare workers, end of life researchers, subject matter experts, Wurundjeri elders through the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation, and culturally linguistically diverse (CALD) people.

Project Commissioner

North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network

Project Creator



Angie Raj, Senior Producer
Olivia Gregory, Producer
Ash West, Lead Experience Designer
Adam Corcoran, Lead Design Strategist
Lee Briggs, Technical Lead
Andrew Fulton, Technical Lead
Debra Cupitt, Developer
Celia Delaney, Design Strategist
Peter Roper, Senior Content Strategist
Maria Garcia, Experience Designer
Harrison Blackmore, Experience Designer
Kerri James, Senior Client Partner
Sarah Kaur, Principal Business Designer

Project Brief

Entering and navigating the final stage of life is an inevitable universal experience. Many of us hold values or wishes we want reflected and upheld as we begin the end of our journey, but few people know what support and services are available to them.

Guided by our previous research into the challenges that face people nearing end of life, we partnered with NWMPHN to create ‘Lately’ that would serve as a bridge between people’s needs and the end of life care and services available.

We started with a human-centred design framework using tried, tested and refined approaches. Working together with NWMPHN, we built a deep understanding of the problem space and captured diverse perspectives and experiences. Over the life of the project, we moved through phases including research, prototyping, testing and iteration, design, build and digital development.

During the research phase, we collaborated with a broad range of people across the community including with the LOTE Agency (translation agency), Wurundjeri elders and CALD focus groups to ensure the voices contributing to the research represented the community as a whole.

As the project progressed, the tool moved through several iterations at different levels of fidelity, leading to the development of a prioritised set of features tailored to the target audience’s needs.

The name ‘Lately’ represents the later stages of life and carries a conversational tone that continues through its written content and features.

Project Need

Currently, finding end of life services is siloed, disconnected and complex. Without a central point of information to turn to, people are becoming lost, services are missed and people are dying without the right care, which Lately’s features address.

Lately supports end of life journeys in three unique ways:

1. Guides and connects people to a diverse network of services and support
2. Creates opportunities for addressing social, emotional and medical needs together
3. Empowers people to connect with their communities and each other

Lately’s innovative design centres around it’s connection of easy-to-understand end-of-life information linked to an accessible and user-friendly services directory, conversation cards, a glossary and commonly asked questions. Fundamental to the innovative approach, Lately is the creation of caring and empathetic consumer-focused content that can be found in a single hub of information, instead of relying on people searching for information on services or how to discuss difficult topics in all corners of the web. People experiencing distress associated with the end of life journey are less inclined to complete substantial research. Empathetic design is a key innovation of Lately.

Lately’s conversation cards are an innovative approach to encouraging open, honest conversations between loved ones. In Australia, death literacy is low and people struggle to discuss the topic. Conversation cards help facilitate these difficult conversations and may also prompt conversations that people didn’t realise they needed to have with their loved ones.

User Experience

Dying well is about identifying personal values and everyone’s journey is unique. Often emotional and social support is separate from medical and practical support, meaning a lot of users don't know the benefits of accessing the social services they need alongside their treatments.

During several community engagements, we built a deep insight into the needs and specific challenges facing people who were nearing end of life. Everything from the name, visual design and content was tested and refined in partnership with the community to ensure it resonated with them.
Through extensive research and user testing, we created three distinct content formats to sit alongside our services directory: answers to commonly asked questions, conversation cards and glossary terms. Each of these formats relates to specific stages in the journey of finding help for yourself or for someone you are caring for who is nearing the end of their life. When designing the content, we focused on crafting language that was empathetic, inclusive, easy to understand, practical and actionable. Accessible design is complemented by the approach taken to visual design and branding. Themes of social, emotional and medical needs were used to inform a look and feel that demonstrates best practice accessibility and is trustworthy, personable and welcoming.

Our team selected technologies keeping users’ needs in mind. The website is built on the NextJS development framework with Strapi CMS. We used Algolia for search queries, allowing users to access content in a faster and intuitive way.

Project Marketing

‘Lately’ provides measurable benefits to people nearing the end of life by utilizing a human-centred and empathetic approach. It is co-designed with real users to tailor the solution features and functionalities accordingly.

Previously, communities and GPs didn’t have access to a digital service directory and relied on paper directories to share information. Lately provides digital service directory of local community services, enabling people to choose the services that best reflect their needs including geographic, religious, language and other requirements. Through championing of local community services Lately also enables these organisations to reach more people and achieve greater impact within their communities.

Services are made visible based on the value they deliver to people, meaning that smaller, grass-root service offerings are just as discoverable as institutional, established offerings.

Lately empowers people to easily find plain language, accessible and inclusive content that helps them to traverse the end of life journey. It brings visibility and ease of access to information that was previously hidden or fragmented and difficult to find.

Lately has been created to be easily scalable to Primary Health Networks across the country.

“It’s been such a pleasure to work with you all on creating the unique and meaningful digital tool that is ‘Lately’. The team at Portable have shown such dedication and flexibility to ensure the needs are our community will be met by this project.” - Rebecca Hall, Program Officer, North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network

Project Privacy

Lately doesn’t require a login from users and hence, it doesn't collect or store any of their personal information. When a user 'favourites' a service, it saves to their own browser via their cookies. This ensures user data and privacy is protected, users can return to their favourite services without the need for us to store any data related to this.

Portable follows industry standard best practices for information security management processes. We have been through a rigorous review and process improvement phase exploring all aspects of the way we manage information security, data privacy and sensitive information.

Portable’s Information Security and Governance policy is based on the ISO 27001:2013 standard, NIST Cybersecurity Framework, VPDSF and other industry best practices. It ensures Portable and our Clients meets legal requirements included in:

Copyright Act 1968 (Cth);
Health Records Act 2001 (Vic);
Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic);

From ground-breaking apps accelerating medical research to apps helping consumers make healthier choices, we're looking for apps that are making health information and medical services more accessible to all.
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