Coronavirus (COVID-19): Learning and Evaluation Oversight Group minutes: March 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 29 March 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Linda Bauld, Chief Social Policy Adviser (Scottish Government), and Professor of Public Health (University of Edinburgh) (Chair)
  • Audrey MacDougall, Chief Social Researcher, Scottish Government
  • Jim McCormick, Chief Executive, Robertson Trust
  • Nick Watson, Professor of Disability Studies, University of Glasgow
  • Patricia Findlay, Professor of Work Employment and Organisation, University of Strathclyde
  • Sarah Skerratt, Director of Programmes, RSE
  • Steven Marwick, Director, Evaluation Support Scotland
  • Kay Tisdall, Professor of Childhood Policy, University of Edinburgh
  • Pamela Smith, Public Health Scotland
  • Adam Hall, Improvement Service
  • Nicola Dickie, Director of People Policy and Health and Social Care COSLA
  • Tom Lamplugh, Head of Social Policy Unit, Scottish Government (Secretariat for the Covid-19 Learning and Evaluation Group)
  • Graeme Wilson, Social Policy Unit, Scottish Government
  • Fran Warren, Social Policy Unit, Scottish Government

Apologies were received from

  • Mary McAllan, Director for COVID Recovery, Scottish Government
  • Adam Lang, Director of Change and Collaboration, Carnegie UK
  • Richard Foggo, Director of Population Health, Scottish Government
  • Andrew Kerr, Chair of SOLACE
  • Gary Gillespie, Chief Economist, Scottish Government
  • Shirley Rogers, Scottish Government Director of Performance, Delivery and Resilience
  • Vittal Katikireddi, Professor of Public Health, University of Glasgow

Items and actions

The Chair welcomed everyone to the seventh meeting of the COVID-19 Learning and Evaluation Oversight Group.

There were no actions arising from the last meeting. 

Learning from the Pandemic Paper - ‘Person Centred Approaches’. Presentation from Tom Lamplugh followed by discussion.

The Chair welcomed Tom to present on the Learning from the Pandemic Paper - ‘Person Centred Approaches’. 

Following the presentation the following points were raised in discussion:

  • a sense that many of the findings were not new and questions regarding why we haven’t made more progress in introducing and embedding person centred approaches
  • why was progress made with person-centred services over the pandemic and why is that progress now being lost?
  • whether person-centredness is a process or an outcome?
  • what is the opposite of person-centredness and is this always a bad thing?
  • importance of targeting and thinking strategically about which elements of person centred approaches are most appropriate and useful in which contexts
  • importance of person centredness across the things that matter in people's lives, not across individual services – focus away from services and towards people
  • importance of integration of services to achieving a person centred approach
  • role of risk taking in explaining the success of person centred approaches during the pandemic – these approaches are risky and this was allowed, for example GDPR legislation was relaxed. Also, not just how individuals perceive risk, but how risk is managed into systems, and how failure is managed within systems
  • empowerment of public servants as a result of person centred approaches
  • the Covid Recovery Strategy Assurance Report, some of which focusses on similar work and findings

The Chair thanked the group for all the valuable comments, which will be incorporated into the paper. The intention is to publish the paper and circulate the paper to group members shortly and invite any further feedback then. The Chair also welcomed any references or other sources for inclusion. 

The Chair thanked Tom for the presentation and Marianne Robertson who has been working with the team over the last three months on this paper, and who was not able to attend the meeting. 

Update on the Covid recovery work

The Chair provided a brief update on Covid recovery work, noting that the landscape has shifted recently as we wait to find out more about the new Cabinet. The Chair noted that the governance around the Covid Recovery work is still functioning well and a lot of progress has been made on the shared outcomes framework. It was noted that the cost crisis and other developments have presented challenges. The Chair provided an update on the Child Poverty Pathfinders underway in Dundee and Glasgow. 

Pamela Smith updated on Public Health Scotland's local working programme, to redirect resources to evidence and data to help inform and direct the local delivery plans.

Nicola Dickie discussed the need to reappraise the Covid Recovery work, given the change in Deputy First Minister and cost of living crisis etc. Suggesting this is the time to step back and ask ourselves the ‘so what?’ question. 

Discussion on next steps for the group

The Chair explained that the aim is to focus on the highest priorities and things that can be achieved within this group, in order to make the most use of the group’s expertise and time in the remaining months.

Tom Lamplugh presented on priorities and proposals for the remaining time of the Covid-19 Learning and Evaluation Oversight Group and fed back the findings from the survey that was issued to the group in the new year. 

Tom opened up the following for discussion:

  • draft, finalise and publish outstanding learning from the Pandemic papers
  • establish a sub-group to draw out overarching themes cutting across all of the papers produced to date (and potentially link these to the Covid Recovery Strategy)
  • establish a sub-group to draw out lessons relating to ‘building in evaluation during times of change’
  • develop a targeted dissemination strategy to disseminate the group’s work

It was agreed that there has been an enormous amount of really valuable work carried out by the group so far and there was a need for an active approach to dissemination. 

It was suggested that it would be valuable to map pathways to impact as a way of mapping where the findings from the reports will have the most impact and then disseminating through those channels. In light of resourcing challenges, it was felt to be important to make sure that these findings have traction, in real life policy and practice contexts. 

It was also suggested that there would be value in looking at how the group calibrates this work into the cost crisis, as many of the issues are the same but in a different context or with different drivers. This would make it relevant and continue to weave into our current policy and practice.

The importance of presenting evidence as a solution to ‘somebody else's problem’ to ensure it has impact was discussed. It was suggested the work of a sub group could be to identify where there are key problems that this work might have some answers to. Steven also stressed his interest in sub group that draws out learning from evaluation.

The Chair said that we would be approaching members following the meeting to see if they would be happy to volunteer, but reiterated that any involvement in the work of a sub-group would be in place of meeting as a group and would not be onerous (reading lots of reports etc.), but more about giving practice advice and making connections. Work of the sub groups would be done between April and the next meeting of the group in the autumn. 

Update from group members

Steven Marwick raised the National Performance Framework review as a space into which this group should be feeding, as they’re interested in evidence for public service reform. 

Plans for finalisation, publication and dissemination of reports

Fran Warren provided a brief update on the progress of the expert reviews. At time of minutes, six of the seven reviews have been published alongside blogs and are on the Covid-19 Learning and Evaluation group website. The remaining expert review on 'A review of interventions, innovation and the impact of COVID-19 in the Scottish prison system within a comparative analytical framework' will be published at the start of May. 

To date the reports have been disseminated on a project by project basis, and the published reviews will also be included in the Scottish Leaders Forum newsletter.

Date and agenda for next meeting

Next meeting will be in August or September, and the date will be confirmed. However, the work will continue with sub groups over the summer. 

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