Co-design and involvement in evaluation

There are clear rules on when publicly funded organisations need to formally consult with the people they work to support. For example, the NHS has a statutory duty to work in partnership with people and communities, described in NHS England’s Working in partnership with people and communities: statutory guidance.

‘People and communities’ encompasses local residents, health service users, carers, families and the public, and includes the NHS workforce. By involving people and communities in proposals for change that will impact them concerning health and care policy; new services; pathway redesign; service development; service disinvestment; and major reconfigurations of services, NHS decision-makers can understand and address what matters most to our people and communities about health, care, and wellbeing services. 

Guidance on involving people and communities in evaluation

You should consider appropriate ways to involve relevant stakeholders at an early stage of your change project. It is especially important and valuable to plan and undertake this carefully and meaningfully for larger scale policy change, programmes of work and projects which may impact many people, or a significant cohort of the population, or a particular community or communities who may be marginalised in some way and therefore experience disproportionate disadvantage from the changes proposed.

Evaluation is a key step in changing how public services are provided. Guidelines for patient and public involvement in healthcare evaluation, co-produced by patients, service users, public contributors, staff from voluntary, academic and statutory sectors and people working in evaluation and patient and public involvement are available on the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) West website. The key message, that evaluation work should be carried out ‘with’ or ‘by’ people, rather than ‘to’, ‘about’ or ‘for’ them, is transferable across the public sector and other areas of evaluation. 

Developing a plan for involving people and communities in evaluation

This checklist will help you think through how you will involve people and communities in your evaluation. It is based on NHS England (NHSE)’s ‘10 Steps to Working with People and Communities’

Work through each section and use your responses to populate the ‘patient and public involvement’ section of your evaluation plan. You might want to paste in an action plan to include:

  •  Date
  • Action(s)
  • Resource needed
  • Lead
  • Comments

The evaluation

  • What are the aims of involving people and communities in this evaluation? How will their involvement contribute to meeting the evaluation/programme/project/service/initiative aims? What can be influenced and informed?) 
  • Who do you need to work alongside you? Who does the programme/project/service/initiative affect? Who is most likely to benefit? Who is at most risk of being excluded? Who should be involved? How many people do you hope to involve, and how do you plan to reach them?)

Working with people and communities 

  • Who is in your community/area of impact?
    (Use an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) and Health Equity Assessment Tool (HEAT) to identify those who will be affected by your programme/project/service/initiative, positively or negatively. Think about who is ‘seldom heard/asked for their views’ and therefore needs to be actively engaged. Who might you need to work with to reach specific communities, e.g., faith leaders and existing involvement channels? Remember that the workforce providing the programme/project/service/initiative being evaluated is a key stakeholder and should be included in any involvement approach)
  • Who should be involved in supporting/delivering/contributing to this evaluation?
    (Who should be co-designing the evaluation with you and as you progress? Are there subject matter experts who can help you to deliver your evaluation, e.g., people with lived experience of the area that you are evaluating?)
  • What do you need to know or find out?
    (Is there existing data and insight can you start from? What do you already know? Where are the gaps? How can you fill these?)
  • How will you involve people in planning and delivering your evaluation?
    (Methods include face to face meetings, open-ended surveys, providing feedback by email, piloting data collection tools. Read the BNSSG ICB Guidance for Debriefing Engagement and Evaluation Participants when planning)
  • What needs to happen when?
    (Work backwards from your deadline, identify key involvement milestones and ensure they align)
  • How will you evaluate your involvement process?
    (Have you met the evaluation aims outlined in Section 2?)
  • How will you feed back to the people who have been involved, and other stakeholders?
    (Ensure your outputs are accessible)