Describing change and impact, and action plans

Measuring experience is about identifying changes in experience over time. When you are assessing services or products for people with dementia, it's important to be clear about impact.

You can use the evidence that you have collected to demonstrate changes in experience.

What's the 'impact'?

Be careful about claiming that a change is an "impact" of your service or programme.

  • "Impact" has a technical meaning in evaluation.
    • Specifically, 'impact' is used to describe change that is long-term, broad and not entirely caused by your service or programme.

Example of the difference between change and impact

Imagine that you run a chiropodist service for people with dementia.

You ask your service users outcome questions. They tell you that they now experience less pain, walk about more, and feel happier in relation to their treated feet.

You receive evidence that indicates that fewer people with dementia have experienced falls in the same area as your chiropodists service.

Co-incidence? Or something more?

You cannot claim that your service has directly led to reduced falls, or has had a major involvement in the reduced frequency of falls. You do not have the evidence for this.  The reduction in falls is more likely to be due to lots of factors (such as people accessing a range of services - chiropractic service, orthopaedic services, occupational therapy walking courses, advice from local charity workers, etc.).

What you can say, is that an impact of the service was a contribution towards reduced frequency of falls in your area. 

Useful links

Free tools and resources at Inspiring Impact.

What does 'impact measurement' really mean? Blog by James Noble

Take action about what you learn from people 

Action Plan: Whether your data was collected from people living with dementia who helped you to design a programme or from service users, it is very important to take in all the results and create an appropriate plan of action.

Your action plan could be based on SMART principles: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.

Manage expectations: it's not always possible to do everything people want. Where that's the case, acknowledge the lived experience and be open about the limitations and where suggestions for improvement are beyond your control.

Be open when your data has some negative experiences or is showing what is not working well

  • a strength of qualitative data is that it can help you to understand what is not working well - and why, and valuing such responses may help you to bring about change, make services more effective and efficient, and improve people's experiences in the future.
  • reflect on your process of seeking feedback and ideas. Consider what did not work so well and why. This could help you improve how you seek feedback in the future.
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