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Reflections on Developing an AI Assistant for Adult Social Care - 'Hey Geraldine'

We are thrilled to share an update on the development of 'Hey Geraldine' the AI assistant, a project aimed at revolutionising the way practitioners across Peterborough City Council identify and access information on digital and technology-enabled-care (TEC) solutions.

Over the past few months, our dedicated team has made significant strides in co-creating a prototype that promises to provide real-time information, advice, and signposting of TEC and digital solutions.

Why Geraldine?

Before we go into the details, we have to explain one key figure in the project. The AI assistant is named in honour of Geraldine, a highly respected and knowledgeable Occupational Therapist in Peterborough. She is known for her extensive expertise and unwavering willingness to assist others, Geraldine has become the go-to person for advice and know-how on all things TEC.

By naming our AI tool 'Hey Geraldine,' we aim to embody her spirit of helpfulness and expertise, ensuring that practitioners can access reliable, real-time information and support whenever they need it. One of our biggest goals is to make her proud!

'Hey Geraldine' is designed to be accessible 24/7, offering support to practitioners seeking information on specific assistive technology devices and the outcomes they can support.

Our prototype tool has shown impressive capabilities in answering detailed questions about various assistive technologies, demonstrating its potential to be an invaluable resource for the workforce as it further develops.

Outside of delivering on the potential of AI, during this first phase of work we have learned a significant amount about how we need to think about content differently, and listen to the users as much as possible.

The Power of Feedback:

The involvement of subject experts and end users from across the service has been instrumental in our development process. Their weekly feedback sessions via huddles and individual check ins have provided invaluable insights, allowing us to adapt the content and data underlying the AI tool. This iterative feedback loop has not only enhanced the accuracy and relevance of 'Hey Geraldine' but also highlighted the necessity of iterative, user-centred design in developing effective AI solutions too.

Adapting to User Needs:

We've learned that flexibility and adaptability are key to creating a tool that meets the diverse needs of the people using the tool on the ground. By listening to the feedback from practitioners and incorporating their suggestions, we have been able to make iterative improvements that bring us closer to our goal of providing a truly supportive and intuitive AI assistant for the Peterborough Adult Social Care workforce.

Balancing Specificity and Generalisation:

One of the key challenges we've encountered is the tool’s ability to handle open-ended queries, especially when users provide vague terminology. While 'Hey Geraldine' currently excels at addressing specific questions, our next key focus is to ensure it can gather enough context to respond accurately to more generalised inquiries. This challenge has highlighted the importance of continuous refinement and the need for sophisticated natural language processing capabilities too.

Next Steps

To advance the 'Hey Geraldine' initiative, the team will focus on several key actions. First, they will create detailed definitions for new types of content that the chatbot needs to address. Following this, they will write and deploy contextual information, monitoring its performance to ensure it meets user needs effectively. Additionally, the process will be opened up to a broader group of users, with regular huddles and feedback sessions scheduled to continuously refine and enhance the chatbot's capabilities, ensuring it remains a valuable resource for the workforce.

Talking Points and Questions for the community

As we continue to refine 'Hey Geraldine', we invite our wider Local Government colleagues to join the conversation and help us strengthen and improve our next steps. Here are some thought-provoking questions and talking points:

Expanding Capabilities:

As we look to expand the capabilities of 'Hey Geraldine,' what additional features or functionalities would be most valuable to you or your staff as practitioners? Are there specific areas of digital or TEC solutions that you feel need more attention or improvement?

User Interaction:

How can we improve the way 'Hey Geraldine' encourages users to provide necessary context for their queries? Are there specific strategies or techniques that could enhance this interaction?

Contextual Understanding:

What are some effective methods for teaching an AI tool to better understand and respond to vague or open-ended questions? Are there examples from other fields or projects that we can learn from?

Feedback Integration:

How can we improve the process of integrating feedback from subject experts and end users into our development cycle? Are there best practices or tools that could make this process more efficient and impactful?

If you’d like to find out more about 'Hey Geraldine' and what this could look like for your service area please contact Adam


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