Your Questions Answered: “Is it possible to suggest a simple structure to evaluate activities that is easy to do throughout the week/month?”
Helen Johns, the lead trainer on our Activity Coordinator Training Course, writes…
Yes! A while ago I wrote about the importance of evaluation. In that article I suggested using a simple structure to evaluate individual activities using three questions: What worked? What didn’t work? What would we do differently?
Here are some ideas on how to collect and record information to help you answer these big evaluation questions. Some of this will be familiar to you already, but if you use these consistently you will be able to consider evaluation on two levels and be clear about what you are evaluating.
- How did individual people engage with the activity?
- How well did the overall activity work?
- Take time to gather immediate feedback: Have a specific notebook that you keep for jotting down comments and feedback as they happen. This is likely to help you capture comments which are far more valuable to you than asking a question two weeks later about “did you enjoy x last time we did that?”
- Make a note of key things that are said: especially things that indicate a person particularly likes or dislikes the activity, or aspect of the activity. For example, someone saying “I haven’t laughed as much in ages” at the end of an activity is a lovely comment to note down on your records and brings the evaluation to life.
- Ask the right type of questions: Sometimes it is difficult to get a response, but the type of question you ask can help. If you ask a closed question (one that just requires a yes/no or one-word answer, such as “Did you enjoy that?”), you will get limited feedback. However, if you ask a more open question you may get something more substantial. (Examples of open questions: “What did you like most/least?”, “How could I have made it better for you?”, “How did it make you feel?”)
- Be specific: Focus on what works and what doesn’t. For example, a person may enjoy looking through a reminiscence book, but find the book you have used too bulky. Make a note that it is the book size, not the activity, that needs adjusting, so that in future the activity can be more enjoyable.
- Be rational: Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater – if something doesn’t work, consider how it can be adapted or re-designed to suit the people you are working with.
- Ask others for their views: As well as asking for feedback from those taking part in the activity, ask staff who know people well for their ideas on how an activity can be improved.
- Record attendance and engagement as two separate things: Attendance is about who attended and how many attended. Engagement is about how those that attended took part.
- Include actions for the future: For the ‘What would we do differently?’ part of the big question make sure you include specific action, ie buy smaller reminiscence cards for use with Mr Y, reduce volume on music quiz etc.
- Include yourself: Don’t forget to evaluate how you (or others) felt about running the activity. It is important that we understand what works and what doesn’t work for us as well.
Helen Johns is the lead trainer for The Daily Sparkle Activity Coordinator Training and has been developing and delivering our courses since April 2017. As well as working for The Daily Sparkle, Helen runs an activity coordinator forum in her local area, provides training and consultancy for care homes in relation to activity and wellbeing and works as an Expert by Experience for CQC inspections. You can find details of all upcoming our training courses here.