3) Co-reported outcomes bring the best of both worlds
Traditional approaches to measuring change in attitudes, skills and behaviour tend to use either a ‘professional’ or clinical assessment by a worker, or ‘self-reported’ information from a service user. Whilst these approaches have value, both bring only one perspective to bear on the situation.
By bringing together the views and insight of all parties involved, the knowledge of both sides can inform measurement and be reflected in a more rounded assessment of the situation. In addition, the process of discussion and shared reflection has its own benefits in terms of supporting the change process. In keywork settings, the building of a shared view of the issues and action needed has been found to be an essential foundation for successful keywork. The concept of co-reporting is unpacked further in Triangle’s article for the Journal of Housing and Social Care.
4) Counting what really counts – there is nothing soft about ‘soft’ outcomes
Triangle believe that measuring changes in attitude, skills and behaviour is vital when assessing the effectiveness of an intervention. Hard outcomes like changes in employment, offending or housing status are very important too. But an exclusive focus on these external changes in circumstance may be less effective in predicting long-term outcomes, because they do not look at the ability of the person to sustain those improved circumstances.
It is now widely accepted and evidenced that skills and attitudes are important predictors of sustained change. And there is also the advantage that changes in these capabilities and qualities can be measured and monitored regularly whilst the service is being delivered to give a more immediate indicator of progress.
5) Advocating sector-wide approaches
Triangle strongly advocate sector-wide tools because we believe they enable organisations to measure, learn and develop most effectively by:
Saving organisations the time and effort of re-inventing the wheel by creating their own tool when there is often strong commonalities across the outcomes services are seeking to achieve
Providing a shared language and understanding between providers and commissioners
Providing consistency and continuity for service users as they move along the service pathway.
Triangle has pioneered this approach with the Outcomes Star family of tools for many different health, care and social sectors and it is gaining traction as a useful ambition, for example with NPC’s Inspiring Impact programme and work around shared measurement.
6) Validation should be balanced and holistic
Traditional outcomes tool validation processes often focus primarily on the needs of academics and policy makers and do not give sufficient attention to the perspective of service users, workers and managers. When tools are validated it is important that the needs of all stakeholders are taken into account.
Ultimately all stakeholders are interested in service user change, but their specific needs are different:
- Service users need tools that empower them to understand their lives and to make changes
- Workers need tools that help them build effective relationships with service users and to have meaningful conversations with and about service users
- Managers need tools that help them identify service strengths and challenges and that help them embed consistent, outcomes-focused and effective ways of working
- Commissioners need tools that allow them to identify effective providers and to support them to be more effective or share learning with others
- Academics and policy makers need tools that help establish what interventions are most effective
Focusing exclusively on the perspective of academics and policy makers can result in tools that are difficult to use, take the focus away from service delivery, don’t relate to the work they are doing and, at worst, get in the way of service user progress. Triangle advocate the use of tools that have been assessed and validated against the needs of all stakeholders.