Since 2014, Helping Groups To Grow Developments have helped hundreds of people across Wales achieve sustained recovery from addiction through their life-changing programme Moving On In My Recovery (MOIMR). The Moving On In My Recovery programme is an in-person acceptance-based cognitive behavioural programme with growing evidence base that was developed by an NHS consultant clinical psychologist alongside those with lived experience of addiction. With the more gradual move towards digital provision of health services, necessitated by the COVID-19 crisis, the Helping Groups To Grow team recognised the need for the development of a novel digital platform that works to enhance user’s engagement in their recovery. The HG2GD team came up with an idea for a micro-intervention app that would help their users engage with treatment more efficiently and provide greater and remote accessibility for people in sustained recovery.
The MOIMR team commissioned Bad Dinosaur in October 2021. They wanted to work with an agency that could help them design and develop an app that could be trialled by their current service users.
All projects at Bad Dinosaur begin with a Discovery Workshop. This initial session allowed the MOIMR and Bad Dinosaur teams to meet and brainstorm ideas for the app, and to align strategy and ideas for the project. It quickly became apparent that the design needed to be simple and user-friendly, with built-in prompts to encourage user engagement.
The purpose of the app is for it to operate as an “out-of-hours” service to support service users ongoing recovery outside of their recovery groups and to deliver micro-interventions when needed. It was agreed that the app would be built to complement components of the face-to-face sessions.
My life has changed so much because of Moving On In My Recovery and I can't thank those involved in the programme enough. It gave me the opportunity to find out who I was once again because I'd lost my sense of purpose. I've made some fantastic friends through Moving On and I've now been on a course so I can be a facilitator for the programme. My life has changed so much.Stephanie from Bangor
During our workshop with MOIMR team, we came up with the key personas of the people who will be using the app in the short-term and in the long-term. This step in our design process allows the agency and the client to connect with and understand the users of the app.
Bethan is living in sheltered accommodation and trying to rebuild her life. After being shifted around foster homes most of her life, Bethan finds it very hard to trust people or build meaningful and long-lasting relationships. She is working towards trying to secure a job and permanent accommodation. With no family or positive personal relationships to help her, she is relying on her support group to help her achieve sustained recovery and get her life back on track.
Gareth has battled addiction for over two decades. He’s managed to get sober a handful of times but relapses soon follow, and he’s feeling very lonely and depressed about his circumstances. He is estranged from his wife and kids due to his addiction problems and most of his acquaintances also have substance abuse issues. He wants to try and turn things around and rebuild his relationship with his children, but needs continuous support to do so - not just through support meetings, but in the small hours when he’s most likely to relapse.
The Moving On app acts as an engaging and powerful resource for users to enhance their recovery outside of their in-person group and peer support sessions. The app provides increased user accessibility; it allows the possibility of delivering engaging content directly to people who need it and when they need it, and it can be coupled with real-time monitoring and feedback.
The app features a section where users can set themselves a weekly challenge to aid with their recovery. This feature provides a daily focus to identify active challenges and behaviours to help users stay proactive about their recovery and to maintain life enhancing habits. When a challenge is completed a visual fanfare (confetti) is triggered to celebrate user achievement and this milestone.
The app has a number of features that users can customise. For example, users can input their Anchor Points (i.e., the things in their life that give them a sense of meaning and purpose) and record their daily mood. These features provide users with reminders of what really matters to them in their recovery and allows users to reflect on their moods and understand their patterns of mood fluctuation. The more users engage with the app, the more personalised the app becomes and the content is customised to their needs and preferences.
The users will also discover interactive tools and exercises in the “My Toolbox” section with real time interventions and audio-recorded exercises.
Each of the MOIMR weekly sessions are summarised in the Moving On app, so users can engage with the programme session summaries at their own pace, making it a great resource for learning.
The Moving On app also provides daily motivational content to keep users engaged and feeling supported as their recovery continues and quick links to crisis numbers if they need more help.
With its comprehensive tools, the micro-intervention Moving On App can be used both as a self-help tool and in conjunction with in-person programme interventions.
The Bad Dinosaur development team used quite specific technology for some of the key app features.
As a Welsh-based company, it was essential for the MOIMR team and the Moving On app to utilise technology that would allow it to have dual language functionality allowing users to seamlessly switch between English and Welsh. The Bad Dinosaur team used .NET localizer to store the text that needed to be displayed in multiple languages.
The app is set up to encourage users to complete two assessments as part of their recovery: every month and every quarter, this data is converted into a spider chart within the app which provides a nice visual aid and feedback for the user. We used Azure functions which integrate Firebase Cloud Messaging to enable push notifications to be sent to the user to remind them of when their next survey is due for completion, aiding usability and engagement of the app.
The MOIMR team are passionate about finding new ways to help their clients and service users during their recovery journey, it has been amazing to play a small part in helping this vision come to life. It is the first time I have worked on developing a dual language app and have enjoyed the challenge.Ian, Head of Products, Bad Dinosaur
Initially trialled amongst existing service users based in Wales, there are big plans for the future of the Moving On app. The business is planning to scale rapidly across the UK, and beyond. The Moving On app has been supported by the North Wales Area Planning Board (who commission Substance Misuse Services) and as such has the NHS stamp of approval. With its growing evidence Moving On In My Recovery team is committed to widen its reach and make this novel digital micro-intervention App accessible to everyone at their early stage of recovery from substance use and help them on their sustained recovery journey. The Moving On app has been designed to support the psychological needs of people with other mental health needs, not just those substance misuse difficulties. This means that in the near future many more people could benefit from this fantastic new resource.
We are so excited and proud with the launch of the Moving On app. We believe we have truly considered all of the key components of the Moving On programme with our service users in mind to develop a truly comprehensive and inspiring digital resource to our clients. With clinically recognised tools and real time intervention techniques the Moving On app is bringing together all of the relevant and essential features users need to support them on their recovery journey and beyond.Dr Lee Hogan - NHS Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Addiction Specialist & The Moving On In My Recovery Team