Ultimately it is important to understand whether improvement strategies have been successful and there are a number of ways in which we have been able to do this in various local authorities and the public sector such as:
- Completing service reviews against inspection criteria, like the Environmental Best Value Reviews we delivered for the local authorities of Slough and Bracknell Forest.
- Evaluating progress from a previous review. An example of this was the work we did with Torbay Care Trust in 2006 to review social care services financial expenditure and performance measured both over time (trends) and against their closest ‘neighbours’. The project also involved the engagement of key staff and sharing skills and knowledge with internal staff to enable them to undertake the analyses and use the model we developed. We were called back in 2008 to repeat the exercise and to provide an analysis on progress since the first review.
- Measuring the softer outcomes of new initiatives such as our work for the Scottish Executive to evaluate the impact of their development of a national Helpline for the carers of substance misusers. This evaluation involved a large number of face to face meetings with carers, their representatives and the helpline staff and took place over a year.
- Joint and cross sector reviews, using a wide range of techniques such as trend and comparative analysis of service performance against national standards and indicators. Our joint review of the Community Safety and Environmental Control services for the Directorate of Communities, Localities and Culture of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in 2008 is a good example.