Identifying and developing questions

Tips about how types of questions, asked in dementia-friendly ways, can help you to learn about different aspects of service user experience.

Developing questions

Involve people with dementia, and carers, in identifying and developing questions.

  • This can help to ensure that they are in language that is clear and meaningful to people from whom you will be seeking responses.
  • It can enable you to identify and overcome any unconscious bias, or assumptions about perceptions and understandings that come from your vantage point of the organisation.
  • It can help you to identify blind spots, questions you might otherwise not think to ask but which may be important for making services more effective and dementia-friendly.

Pilot surveys with people with dementia, and carers, ideally with similar abilities and characteristics as those from whom you want to seek responses in your final survey.

  • This will help to spot any issues so that you can make improvements before circulating your survey widely. 

Questions to measure intended outcomes

Be clear what outcome you want to measure.

An outcome is a measurable change or difference that an event, service, project or programme is anticipated to make. 

  • Outcomes are not a record of what has happened in the service, but focus on the change that has occurred for the individuals. The change could be positive or negative, improved or worse.
  • The difference between outputs and outcomes: example
    • monitoring data (or 'output')  indicated that Community Dementia Nurses visited 100 people with a diagnosis of dementia this quarter.
    • outcome data demonstrated that 90% of these service users felt less anxious about their diagnosis after having received this service

Now you know what you want to measure, consider how to measure it

  • decide what success looks like: the marker you need to demonstrate that the outcome has been achieved. For example: ‘If x% of service users agree on y outcome, then we can consider this outcome to have been met’.
  • what questions will generate the information you need to see how far you are towards achieving that success?

Questions on processes

These types of questions help to understand barriers and opportunities for achieving your outcomes.

  • Your service users may have fresh ideas and unique perspectives that can help about making improvements and developing solutions, even with the financial challenges and time constraints many services are facing. 
  • Examples:
    • exploring how efficiently things are working
    • asking about what people feel is working well
    • asking about how things can be improved
    • finding out whether a service is achieving what it is meant to in the way it was designed.
      • One way to do this might be to get service user reactions to things immediately, and then again over a period of time (helping you build an understanding of short and long term effects of the service).