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14. Reporting, evaluating and celebrating success

The process of experience-based co-design (EBCD) is exciting and inspiring, but it is important not to lose sight of its key objective: to improve services. So, this stage involves gathering data and communicating outcomes to others to demonstrate the value of the project.

During the course of the project, you will often be asked the question ‘What has the project achieved so far?’ So, every time you discuss the project, it is important to highlight the ‘return on investment’ – what the project has accomplished to date. You can measure your achievements against two sets of goals: the delivery of the objectives set by the co-design groups, which will focus on the service changes; and project objectives, such as how many people have turned up regularly.

Because EBCD draws on qualitative data, you may not be able to measure the resulting service improvements through typical approaches such as audit – but you can still measure them. Here are some options:

  • List all the improvements suggested by patients and staff, and detail which of these have been achieved to date. When you consider which elements to measure, think about what participants have highlighted as being important, and focus on those, even if they may seem simple and small-scale to others.
  • Use a more formal evaluation approach, such as before-and-after surveys to test whether patients’ experiences were improved as a result of the intervention.
  • Draw on existing patient experience surveys to see whether certain aspects have changed over time. You may need to combine the results with other more qualitative forms of evidence, such as continuing to collect and discuss patient stories of their experiences and reflecting on whether further improvements are needed.
  • Even if you do not have the resources to measure impact on patient experience, you can provide data on the extent to which a change has been adopted. For example, if staff agree to set aside one hour a day for one-to-one time with patients, you can audit how often this took place, both before and after the intervention. You could also gather patients’ responses to this change.

One important group of people who need to hear these project outcomes is project participants themselves. EBCD requires emotional investment from staff and patients alike. Holding a celebratory event for everyone involved six to nine months after the joint patient–staff event is a simple but important way of thanking participants, reporting back on what has been achieved, and providing a clear ending point to this part of the project. It may also act as a catalyst for future projects.

Key points

  • Every time you talk to the person who commissioned the project or your colleagues or project participants, offer them clear facts about how the project is progressing and what it has achieved so far.
  • Have a handy presentation or document ready that you can adapt for different purposes, including a couple of strong stories with ‘before-and-after’ evidence of improvements. (See sample co-design achievements presentation.)
  • Keep track of all the service improvements and achievements throughout the course of the project, generating a list of the actions that resulted directly from co-design groups.
  • Also mention the links with any other service improvement projects that were already in progress at the start of the EBCD project and were touched on during project discussions. However, make sure you do not appear to take credit for these.
  • Try to demonstrate the wider impacts of being involved in the experience and watching the film. This is easiest to do through qualitative feedback. For example, regularly ask for comments on feedback forms and include quotes in your presentations and literature.
  • Where possible, highlight any tangible, measurable changes, citing before-and-after figures. If any changes have a secondary benefit of cutting costs (for example, streamlining processes to avoid duplication of tasks), include those costs where possible.
  • Accept any opportunities to talk about the project within wider forums – for example, at internal meetings, or wider networking events or seminars – again providing clear evidence of outcomes.
  • Work with your communications department and relevant service-user forums to publicise the project in key groups, newsletters or other media (internal and external). EBCD can also be powerful when bidding for new tenders, so make sure your business development teams are aware of your work.
  • If you show film clips, be careful not to break confidentiality. If the film clip shows negative feedback, make sure you balance this out by explaining what has been done to resolve the situation.
  • Make the celebration event as informal as possible. Ask someone to give a short talk to summarise the project and to thank everyone involved at the various stages. Use this opportunity to collate everything that has been achieved into one document. (See sample celebration event presentation).
  • At the celebration event, make sure everyone feels comfortable. Assign people the role of facilitating informal chats, to help less confident guests circulate. Put up posters showing project achievements. This provides a useful focal point to help guests break the ice.
  • In some cases patient groups have remained involved in improvements, so the project has sparked off an ongoing process.