PRACTICE EXAMPLE - MOST SIGNIFICANT CHANGE
Evaluating older peoples’ community advocacy programme in Wales: Age Cymru HOPE
by Imogen Blood
Imogen Blood & Associates, working partnership with our long-standing Welsh collaborators, Practice Solutions, have been commissioned to evaluate the HOPE project, which is delivered by Age Cymru, with Welsh Government funding.
HOPE (Helping Others Participate and Engage) aims to strengthen and deliver community advocacy with and for older people and their carers, by recruiting and supporting volunteers and ‘Advocacy Ambassadors’, and by delivering training and awareness-raising. A key objective of this national project is to build the capacity locally to co-produce a strategy which can sustain community advocacy beyond the funded period.
The evaluation runs from September 2020 to December 2022. We will be using Most Significant Change, alongside more traditional monitoring and evaluation methods.
It aligns well with the project’s co-produced design and ethos, and will enable older people involved in the projects – as ambassadors, volunteers and those benefitting from advocacy support - to have meaningful involvement in the evaluation, as story- tellers, collectors and panel members.
It should help to build the capacity and confidence for self-evaluation by staff and partners by creating structured opportunities for real-time reflection. This should support formative evaluation, i.e. helping local partnerships learn from each other and implement that learning during the lifetime of the project.
MSC works well in a complex, multi-site, exploratory project like this since it does not attempt to compare outcomes across sites, and does not seek to pre-empt the project’s outcomes.
Our plan is to recruit and train ‘story-collectors’ in each of the five regions and train them to collect stories of change from others. ‘Story-tellers’ may include older people receiving advocacy, volunteers and ambassadors, professionals receiving training, and partner agencies. We will facilitate a story discussion in each region in Summer 2021, taking the stories selected by these panels and the learning from the discussions to a national panel meeting.
We will repeat this process in Year 2, encouraging local areas to run their own panels, with remote support from the research team. This should help build local capacity and confidence in using MSC, whilst making best use of the relatively small budget for this national evaluation.
We are currently working with the project team as they adapt their own plans and ways of working during the pandemic, recognising that we too will need to adapt ours.