Evaluating and responding to the impacts of COVID-19

Evaluating and responding to the impacts of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is a global emergency that is having a disproportionate impact on the communities who access drummond street services (ds) for support. Communities who already experience marginalisation and who need support dealing with the diverse and damaging impacts of COVID-19 across a range of health and wellbeing outcomes. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, ds is adapting rapidly to meet the changing needs of both clients and staff. As an organisation committed to using evaluation to drive program improvement, it was necessary to adapt evaluation activities to suit the new environment.

CFRE has worked alongside program managers and staff to adapt ds’ evaluation strategy to assess the organisational response to the crisis. Firstly, it will provide an ongoing assessment of the impacts of COVID-19 on the health and wellbeing of clients and identify vulnerable or at-risk groups. This will not only allow the organisation to better respond to changing client needs; it will also provide the data that will help ds advocate for more support for vulnerable clients or to address emerging needs, in line with the organisation’s Social Justice Framework. Secondly, the evaluation will enable a review of the extent to which adapted service provision is working across a range of programs. This will include assessing the move to telehealth platforms and the provision of additional COVID-19 specific support during this time- including videos, tip sheets and material support in the form of brokerage funding and food drops to vulnerable client groups. Through reviewing these processes, ds will be able to improve service provision and program responses, in addition to identifying which program areas have the potential for integrating telehealth platforms going forward.

Evaluation Key Aims

The ultimate purpose of the COVID-19 evaluation is to ensure ds adapts services and responds effectively in a rapidly changing context, whilst continuing to have a positive impact on a range of wellbeing outcomes for the individuals, families and communities with whom ds work.

The evaluation plan aims to:

  1. Evaluate how ds is responding as an organisation to the crisis
  2. Monitor changing client needs, experiences and outcomes to identify which areas of clients’ wellbeing are being impacted
  3. Identify which cohorts are most vulnerable to the effects of COVID -19 and the specific way in which these cohorts are being impacted
  4. Monitor practitioner and client experiences of using telehealth platforms to provide support across a range of program areas
  5. Capture the learnings from our evaluation and adaptive management processes to support the social services sector more broadly.

The learnings that emerge from this research and evaluation strategy will inform service delivery at a program level, in addition to informing policy through the dissemination of our findings to all levels of government and to the sector more broadly. Where possible, we will centre the voices of end service users and communities, when advocating with and for them.  

Sharing the learnings

CFRE will use findings from this research and evaluation strategy to develop up helpful resources, intended to support other agencies. These tools, tip sheets and/or webinars will cover key themes relating to:

  • Data capture during this time to identify priorities for action
  • Adapting data capture so that measures are sensitive to the current environment
  • Using evidence-based management processes to conduct research and evaluation that is both evidence-informed and evidence-building
  • Business continuity and recovery planning for the not for profit sector

We will have updates on our Evaluation during COVID-19 resources coming soon.

Agency support and capacity building

CFRE consultants are available to support agencies to adapt their evaluation activities to the current context. We deliver workshops and planning sessions, provide mentoring and technical support as well as conduct literature reviews, environmental scans and help teams develop frameworks and tools that are critical for ongoing program development and improvement. All projects are tailored to the individual needs of specific agencies. Please Contact us for more information.

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