Changing social care: an inclusive approach
Leadership for change and improvement: Evaluation
- Monitor performance and improvements as a way of assessing progress so far and identifying the next steps to take.
- Ways of doing this include:
- creating an environment that encourages feedback and reflection
- having a central role for stakeholders
- using a variety of different methods.
The activities undergone by the organisations can best be likened to evolution. That is, while there is a clear purpose underlying the process, the process was more about continual adaptation rather than discrete steps towards an absolute goal(SCIE Knowledge review 16).
Staff at Age Concern Sheffield commented on the importance of having a trusting and open environment where frank discussions could take place with peers and managers:
I think it is about working in a safe environment where you feel you can approach your line manager...and say if you don't feel confident in an area(SCIE Knowledge review 16).
The case study organisations use a range of methods to monitor what they are doing:
- All organisations regularly review organisational plans to see what has been achieved , what has not, and why.
- Willowbank uses a skills map to appraise the skills of staff and board members. This measures the needs of the organisation against the current skills of staff and is a good way of staying focused on what skills and knowledge need to be developed instead of becoming overly reliant on one or two people. Age Concern Sheffield uses ‘critical audit events’ to explore situations where services are not delivered as planned.
- Age Concern Sheffield asks ‘external critical friends’ for feedback, which means asking someone the organisation trusts to give honest feedback.
- CAFCASS has built mini self-evaluations into its pilot projects which ask practitioners to consider how their performance was influenced by new changes or ways of working, and what impact this has had on the lives of the children they work with.
- Initiating user-led reviews is a popular method among the case study organisations. CAFCASS has a computer feedback programme and Willowbank asks its users to conduct annual reviews.
How we know this
- Evaluation is particularly important to consider as research indicates that there may be a need for more frequent feedback during times of transition (Fauth and Mahdon 2007).
- Using a multi-method approach, combining targets with surveys and qualitative work is most effective (Pettigrew et al. 2001).
- Effective evaluation incorporates the full range of stakeholders, including front-line staff and people who use services (Fauth and Mahdon 2007).
- One possible approach that may be appropriate for social care is community-based participatory research, which:
- incorporates ‘community’ into research by joining partners with diverse skills, knowledge and sensitivities to address complex problems
- combines research with new interventions
- builds on strengths and resources within the community by supporting or expanding structures and processes that contribute to the ability of the community to work together
- encourages collaborative, equal involvement of all community members
- promotes co-learning and empowerment within and across different groups with an emphasis on sharing information and decision-making power
- increases civic engagement by traditionally excluded groups
- disseminates findings and knowledge to all partners (London et al. 2003; Naylor et al. 2002; Nelson et al. 2006a, 2006b; O’Fallon and Dearry 2002; Turner and Beresford 2005).