Ethnographic study and service sesign

Hospice Général

The Hospice Général commissioned Enigma to imagine desirable futures in a social innovation perspective and to develop a service design.


Social work and the integration of foreigners in Switzerland are subjects that may be touchy, bothering or close to heart. What is certain is the importance of their implications. How can we facilitate the crossing of two distinct worlds, the one of people with difficult backgrounds with one of administration, managing organization and logistics? The Hospice Général commissioned Enigma to understand the challenges created by this clash of contexts and design its services accordingly.

Service Design


Enigma used a service design method, focusing on understanding the culture of each stakeholder and based on anthropological, ethnographic and social psychology principles.

The different backgrounds of migrants and employees were first analysed. For a detailed understanding, observation and interview were planned in order to visualize the temporal and spatial implications of these journeys. Different points of contact were identified, on which the different problems, emotions, expectations and interactions for both migrants and employees could be overlaid.

First of all, it was necessary to understand the very nature of migration, the migratory ontology: conditions of departure from crisis, the drama of migration, the dangers involved and the anxiety related to travelling, exile, the fantasy of the refuge land. Understanding the context enabled to be conscious of the differences in expectations and sometimes even simply vocabulary mismatch.

In a service design perspective, the integration and welcome strategy has been defined, in conjunction with social work in systems in order to integrate the needs of all stakeholders.

Several best practices were put forward to inspire new services, such as a “council of wise men” to solve internal problems, a social grocery store with original spices but that also serves as a meeting place, the use of social networks to keep in touch with relatives or Hospice employee….

The main issues that the institution faced were highlighted. How can we absorb the reality of the migrant in order to calm him down, how can we amplify the feeling of refuge? How can we make better use of migrants’ resources, how can we give meaning to the living environment? Integrate their socio-economic reality into their integration?


Using a service design approach, Enigma was able to provide the General Hospital with indications on the experience of collaborators and migrants to improve their experience within the Hospice. Enigma also obtained deeper insights into migration and integration issues from this study.

Service Design Board

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