On the 31st May 2022, Evaluation Support Scotland and VHS held a workshop for Community Link Workers.
What we did
The aim of this half-day online workshop run by Evaluation Support Scotland (ESS) and Voluntary Health Scotland (VHS) workshop was to support community link workers (CLWs) demonstrate their impact on tackling health inequalities. The workshop should specifically help CLWs to:
- Feel more confident to take steps to evaluate their work
- Better understand where to go for more information/support
- Better understand how to demonstrate their impact on health inequalities
ESS facilitated the workshop. VHS promoted it to the network, registered participants and issued the meeting link and programme. The workshop was first run in December and was “back by popular demand”!
There were spaces for up to 35 CLWs to attend. Places filled up quickly and there was a waiting list. However 18 people attended the session (excluding the organisers and a couple of others who dropped out near the start).
12 people completed a “baseline” survey about their knowledge and what they wanted from the workshop. In summary they wanted:
- Ideas and tools about how to evaluate
- More clarity about health inequalities and how to address them
We asked them about the challenges they faced in relation to the subject of the workshop and in summary they said:
- A lack of tools or consistently agreed measures for their work
- The fact the work is hard to measure (work is very varied and with lots of people – often vulnerable; interventions are sometimes brief)
- Some also mentioned challenges with the work itself – GPs not referring or a lack of other services to refer on to.
The difference we made
12 people filled in a baseline form and 14 completed a feedback form. The graph shows the self-scores from participants who completed both forms. (1= low and 5= high). All participants improved their understanding about evaluation and about demonstrating their impact on health inequalities although (as in December) no one was fully confident at the end of the workshop. Our follow up event in August will hopefully build confidence and knowledge further.
Participants told us what they planned to do with the learning from the workshop. In summary this was a mix using logic models, improving evaluation approaches and general reflection and review. Several mentioned sharing learning with colleagues. Example quotes below:
Using logic models
“Follow up with the Logic model for my service”
“It’s helped me to think about measuring the smaller outcomes in order to tackle the bigger outcomes.”
Improving evaluation approaches
“I will take on board to use a blend of different evaluation techniques but also the value of third party feedback as well as from people we are supporting directly”
“I would like to pursue creating a feedback form that can be given to the clients so that we can see how we have impacted their lives from their point of view.”
General reflection and review
“Consider it in local steering group for Social Prescribing in our area – food for thought as we review the service”
“Take the information and learning back to my team to instigate discussions and help us improve our measurement of outcomes and evaluation.”
Feedback on workshop content and approach was positive. Participants valued the mix of presentation and opportunities to share learning with peers.
“Really interesting and great resources which I will definitely be taking forward to the rest of my team. Made great connections with fellow social prescribing link workers and have already arranged to connect outwith this meeting.”
“Enjoyed the session, good to get some peer support.”
“It was really useful, especially to connect with other link workers to see how we all do things.”
“I enjoyed the session – very clearly put and a lot of thought provoking stuff.”
What we learned
- As with the December workshop CLWs strongly value the opportunity to share ideas and learning with each other. The network itself (and VHS’s coordination of it) is crucial for workforce development and support.
- Although the focus on the workshop was on evaluating contribution to health inequalities participants also valued the more general evaluation content.
- There was some conversation in the event and in the feedback form about the need for some more consistent evaluation of the CLW more generally. Others said consistency across different areas and systems is difficult. However, perhaps some consistency to promote the value of the CLW model might be helpful in future.
- Although not the focus of this workshop there was feedback from some participants about getting referrals or feedback from with GPs and in partnership working more generally which could be subject for future events.
- ESS continues to find it incredibly valuable to work in partnership with VHS. It enables us to reach people and help them use the Rich Tapestry resource.
“Social Prescribing as a whole within my area needs better direction and guidance … We are slowly moving towards this and I hope this will improve things as a whole.”
Steven Marwick is the Director of Evaluation Support Scotland.