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Blog: The right tool for the job

Martha Lester-Cribb Evaluation Support Manager for the Support in the Right Direction programme talks about the right tool for the job.

It’s Self Management Week and thinking about this brought to mind an inspirational information collection tool designed by participants of one of the Creative Approaches workshops that ESS was commissioned to run for projects supported by the Alliance’s Self Management Impact Fund

At ESS we have long encouraged projects to develop evaluation tools which are appropriate for the people they work with and the situation they work in.  After all, asking a group of teenage carers who have just been kayaking to fill in a 4-page questionnaire while they shiver soggily in the teeth of a northerly wind is unlikely to get you the considered (or legible) responses about improved self-esteem you are hoping for.

Designing the right evaluation tool for the job becomes even more important when you are working with people who may be unable to use more traditional methods.  

Several of the projects on the Creative Approaches training work with people with visual impairments and together they came up with a creative way of enabling their clients to give meaningful feedback.

To explain the tool, let’s imagine a project which aims to help people with visual impairments become more confident in undertaking daily living tasks independently.

Each task is represented by an appropriate object (eg a model bus for travelling or coins for shopping).  An empty bowl is placed next to each object.   

Clients choose from a range of tactile materials to indicate how confident they feel about each task. If they put lots of wire wool in the bowl beside the model bus, this might indicate that they feel extremely uncomfortable travelling independently.  Two building bricks, however, might mean that their confidence is just starting to grow.  It is always vital to check, therefore, that you have understood why the individual chose that particular material.          

You can use this tool at different stages as a means of gauging change – recording the results each time using a combination of photographs and notes.  It might be useful to set the bowls up with the materials the person chose previously in order to stimulate discussion about any changes which have occurred.

The Alliance describes self management as putting: …people living with long term conditions in ‘the driving seat’.  It seems to me that, no matter who you work with, by developing the right evaluation tools for them and your environment you can at least ensure that your service users are able to join you on the journey rather than being left shivering on the shore.                                                                                                                        

Let us know what you think of this idea?  Perhaps you have used a similar evaluation tool? Tell us by contacting Martha Lester-Cribb and we will post your response below.

                                                                                          Bus photograph © Carl Spencer, 2008





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