PPL Blog: Better care: measuring your impact

PPL Blog: Better care: measuring your impact
posted 05 May 2015

Lisa Larsen, Chief Operating Officer at PPL and Ewan King, Director of Business Development and Delivery at the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), came together to write an article on why measuring impact is now more important than ever in health and social care. 

Better care: measuring your impact

In South Tyneside, conversations are changing from “How can I help you?” to “How can I help you to help yourself?” In the Hebburn district, a self-care programme is being trialled. How will anyone know if this is a success? Well, they’ll be looking at factors such as the number of people who feel they’re supported to manage their condition.

In times of rapid change in health and social care, it’s great to see innovation. But it’s also important to make the case for understanding and measuring the impact of transformation is stronger than ever. Yet, measurement is often overlooked by commissioners in their efforts to transform care. As a result, there can be a lack of robust evidence about what works; evidence which is crucial to drive continuous improvement to make a strong case for future investment decisions.

Commissioners, now more than ever, need to demonstrate how their investments have delivered improved outcomes – as defined not simply just by those commissioners or by providers, but also by users and carers.

What is measured, matters

Commissioners know that, but they don’t always allow sufficient time to clarify outcomes in the short, medium and long term; or to develop appropriate measures and ensure these are embedded through local evaluation and performance improvement processes.

Understanding the impact that new services are delivering is crucial to the success of better care, as is using this insight to continuously evolve and improve. This is the focus of one of four recently launched Better Care Fund guides, which sets out practical steps of ‘How to…understand and measure impact’. These appear on SCIE’s site.

There is a wealth of information available on good practice in this field, of course, but what distinguishes this guide (and the other three ‘How to’ guides, produced as part of the Better Care Fund National Programme) is that they were co-produced by international, national and local change leaders. While drawing on tried-and-tested methodologies and frameworks, their focus is to share specific and current learning for those commissioning, managing and delivering Better Care across the system. (The Better Care Fund creates a powerful single budget to incentivise integrated working between health, social care and others to focus on the wellbeing of local people.)

Metrics are important

Metrics are clearly linked to core aims and desired outcomes; they are developed by the range of people affected by, or delivering, the change; they provide a robust and clear framework for effective monitoring over defined timescales; and they demonstrate the relationships between the intervention and the outcomes, enabling sound judgement on progress and impact.

Establishing person-centred, coordinated care, offers clear benefits yet it also presents major challenges to health and care systems. Integrated care strategies are complex and vary across the country; therefore, outcomes and measures need to be selected to suit both local and national priorities. And it is important to adopt, and use, a set of measures that align with the main elements of a national, regional or local strategy.

It’s often said that we need to ‘make the case’ for better care. This is indeed true. But without upfront investment in deciding what we are measuring, and how we will measure it, the case for change will never be as strong as it can and should be. This in turn can help staff in places like South Tyneside to ask the questions that can help provide better care.

PPL and SCIE are jointly part of the consortium delivering the Better Care Fund National Programme across the UK/England.