Meeting people and talking to them in person are typically important aspects of data collection in our evaluation projects. These include interviews and observation of activity sessions for example in community groups or care homes.
COVID-19 and lockdown has changed the situation for our clients significantly. Peer support groups cannot meet, creative activity sessions are postponed or run online, and care homes have not been able to have external visitors to come to deliver activities. At the same time, there is an increased need for connection to other people and creative activities to help with isolation, anxiety, and overall physical and mental wellbeing.
While lockdown has been easing in the last few weeks, how the situation will be over the autumn and winter months is a big uncertainty. Nonetheless, some activities, support groups and services are returning, in one way or another.
Our approach to working with clients is very flexible and we can adjust evaluation plans as and when needed. We are also exploring different approaches to evaluation to fit the new circumstances.
These are some of the approaches we can currently use:
Online surveys provide an element of flexibility to respondents: they can choose when to complete them. We understand that not everyone is comfortable using computers or smartphones, and that people are not always interested in filling surveys, particularly if they have had to fill in many before. Surveys can be combined with other data collection methods to learn more about the participants experiences and thoughts.
Telephone or online interviews workwell withpeople who are comfortable using the telephone or computer. This approach may not work well with individuals who are less confident, or for topics that are sensitive. In these situations, face-to-face interviews can create a more relaxed setting to discuss the issues.
Conducting collaborative research with the client. This approach can be particularly useful in care homes and in projects working with clients who have mental health problems. As part of this approach, the client collects data from project participants, which ensures participants can comfortably provide feedback to someone familiar, as part of ongoing relationship.
Other approaches we can use include walking interviews, journal entries and analysis of project management data.
We will plan the most suitable approach for each project in partnership with the client, often using multiple data collection methods. These can include face-to-face interviews too, as long as these are allowed. We will also review any plans if the COVID-19 guidance changes.
Contact us to discuss your evaluation or research plans. We also deliver evaluation capacity building and ongoing support for organisations, which can be delivered online via videoconferencing.