Part 3: Measuring changes to outcomes
To assess our progress towards the long term outcomes (and vision) we need to understand what and where we expect to see change happen, and how that change can be measured.
The table at Annex A sets out our plans on indicators, as well as potential measures and data sources for each of the short term outcomes.
Our measurement approach will continue to develop over time as we take forward and enhance our measurement plans and indicators (as new evidence becomes available); and, as we learn from our experience of working in an outcomes focussed way. For some outcomes it is already clear what needs to be measured to assess progress, whilst for other outcomes we need to build our understanding.
Achieving the long term outcomes (and vision) of the Strategy will require targeted effort to address inequalities, and to reach and support groups with higher risk of suicide. In line with this, we will measure change at both population wide and targeted group levels.
Finally, we recognise that during years 1 and 2 of the Strategy the ability to demonstrate evidence on achieving the outcomes may be limited. It will take time to capture new data and put measures in place, and it may also take time for our actions to flow through to measurable social change (as described by the outcomes).
How we will measure change
We will explore all opportunities to measure the impact of our work on an ongoing basis, ensuring that we capture the difference we are making, and for whom. It is also important that we are able to demonstrate whether or not we are on track to achieve the long term outcomes (and vision) throughout the lifespan of each Action Plan.
Some of the proposed measures set out in Annex A will be drawn from existing sources (e.g. population surveys). Other measures will require new or adapted data sources, including using bespoke tools to capture qualitative measures, such as people's experiences.
As the data collection work progresses, we will continue to assess the most appropriate and effective measures to adopt in order to assess and report change meaningfully and robustly. Indicators and measures will be confirmed in future versions of the outcomes framework and annual progress reports.
Finally, we will adopt a proportionate and efficient approach to data collection, measurement, and reporting. For example we will:
- seek to maximise the use of data sources, for example, to measure progress across a range of outcomes and potentially across linked programmes, such as the Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy.
- avoid duplication of effort and minimise requests to partners and the public. For example, any additions to population survey or partner feedback would include data relating to all relevant outcomes, wherever possible.
Contextual factors, underlying assumptions and unintended consequences
Our monitoring and evaluation approach will take account of the wider context within which Creating Hope Together is being implemented, and the assumptions we have used to design our approach.
There are different types of contextual factors that could affect the intended impact of the Strategy, including socio-economic, socio-cultural, and political factors. These factors will be considered alongside the evidence of progress in achieving outcomes. Some of these factors could affect implementation directly, such as funding availability and strategic priorities of partners, whilst other macro factors, such as inflation or significant population health issues, may have indirect effects.
As mentioned earlier, as the outcomes framework continues to develop and be embedded, it will be important to examine the assumptions that underlie our outcomes framework, including the relationship between short and medium term outcomes and long term outcomes, and the relationship between implementation activities and outcomes. Our monitoring and evaluation plans will include testing of these assumptions.
There may also be unintended consequences (positive or negative) arising from implementation of the Strategy, which may affect suicide prevention or wider policies. We will take all reasonable steps to identify and manage potential unintended consequences as part of our planning and delivery.
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