Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors

Step 5: Evaluate

Undertaking an evaluation is a helpful process in planning for change, monitoring progress, demonstrating results and justifying the use of resources.

In the context of age-friendly communities, evaluation is considered so critical that The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Network of Age-Friendly Communities requires Network members to provide an evaluation report every 5 years to maintain membership of the AARP and World Health Organisation (WHO) age-friendly networks.

The AARP Network adds that evaluation can assist in identifying:

  • where progress was made
  • where improvements are still required
  • what barriers and enablers exist
  • whether goals need to change.

Evaluation also offers the opportunity to celebrate successes, which in turn inspires momentum, commitment and creativity.

There are many ways to undertake evaluation.

The following offers a useful approach.

1. Consider the form your evaluation will take.

Forms of evaluation include:

  • Needs assessment/baseline assessment. This can help understand needs and plan for change. It also provides a useful snapshot of current circumstances so that outcomes can be monitored. This form of evaluation can also help create momentum for change by facilitating an understanding of why change is required.
  • Monitoring evaluation. This is a repeat of some or all the parts of the baseline evaluation to monitor progress, celebrate achievements and refine actions.
  • Impact evaluation. This is generally undertaken towards the end of a cycle of activity to determine outcomes and impacts.

These forms of evaluation fit well with the cycles of quality improvement that many businesses and organisations adopt.

2. Identify your evaluation approach.

Approaches that are often used to evaluate age-friendly activities include:

  • surveys and interviews
  • workshops
  • consultations
  • forums.

3. Consider or confirm who will undertake the evaluation.

In some cases, an external evaluator might be considered. However, it is important to note that there is a movement towards evaluation approaches where there is extensive stakeholder participation and control. This approach is consistent with the WHO recommendation to prioritise the role of older people. Engaging older people in planning and undertaking your evaluation can provide valuable information about what works and what needs to change. Working with older people in this way can also demonstrate your commitment to age-friendly evaluation.

4. Document an evaluation report and communicate your findings to key stakeholders.

A report on your evaluation can also showcase your achievements which will enable others to learn from your achievements and demonstrate your leadership.

TIP
Celebrate and share your successes and achievements. There are existing networks that you might like to join to share your age-friendly journey and achievements.

Consider:

You can also promote your initiatives on your website, social media and in your community. Consider local, state or national conferences where you can showcase your work. You can prepare media releases and promotional material to show how your organisation is committed to age-friendliness.

The Queensland Government is committed to supporting organisations that take up the challenge to bring age-friendly to life in their community. If you can demonstrate your age-friendly initiatives are improving the quality of life and well-being for older Queenslanders, we will formally recognise your organisation as an Age-Friendly Champion and promote your program as best practice. Share your journey with us, undertake the age-friendly process planning steps detailed in this toolkit and provide us with evidence to demonstrate how your local approaches are changing lives.

The Queensland Government strongly encourages organisations, particularly local councils, to join the WHO Global Network for Age Friendly Cities and Communities to learn more about successful initiatives being implemented around the world. Go to the WHO website to find out more.

An evaluation framework

In this section, we provide you with an evaluation that you can tailor to your needs. The framework is not prescriptive and forms a cycle. When planning your evaluation, it is useful to think about whether you wish to apply for WHO status.

  1. Define indicators

    Identify the key change indicators to establish a common understanding among stakeholders about the key dimensions of age-friendliness that are valued and that can be used in setting and measuring goals and objectives. In 2015, the WHO developed a set of core indicators for monitoring and evaluating age-friendly urban environments. The indicators focus predominately on outcomes and impact indicators and are intended to be adapted to local contexts as has been done for the Queensland Government Age-friendly Indicators. They can easily be adapted to rural and remote contexts. The indicators relate to the key principles of equity, accessibility and inclusiveness which underpin the 8 liveability domains. Use the indicators in the 8 domains as a guide for this.
  1. Identify evaluation approaches

    Using the indicators as a guide, identify how you will measure and evaluate changes to these indicators. You could consider, for example, a survey, interviews, a forum, workshops, focus groups or consultation.
  1. Conduct baseline needs assessment

    Now that you have your indicators and measurements, it’s time to conduct your evaluation. Using a baseline needs assessment you will evaluate your current situation before you implement change strategies. If you include survey data in this, it will provide measures that will be a useful comparison to measure your achievements against. Including qualitative data such as interviews and group sessions will help provide information about what needs to change and how.
  1. Undertake monitoring evaluation

    A monitoring evaluation is basically a repeat of the baseline assessment, either in full or in part, to help track how you are progressing and what refinements need to be made. A monitoring evaluation could involve a smaller number of interviews or workshops to get feedback from stakeholders. It could also involve repeating some of the measures for areas where you are concerned improvements are not being made. Remember the aim of the monitoring evaluation is to help you check in on how you are progressing.
  1. Undertake impact evaluation

    Repeating the baseline needs assessment can help you identify your outcomes and impacts. This information will also help you plan your next cycle of improvement activities. The timing of an impact evaluation will depend on the activities you planned and when they are completed.

    An impact evaluation will provide you with evidence of your achievements; this is important if you want the leadership you have provided to be recognised or if you want to communicate successes to your stakeholders.

    Writing a report about your activities and evaluation is also very important in communicating achievements. Don’t forget to include your inputs (human and other resources invested) and your outputs (lists or descriptions of activities) so that others can see what you have achieved.
  1. Repeat the cycle

    Creating an age-friendly community is something that needs to be maintained. Stakeholders come and go and progress needs to be maintained or built on. The impact evaluation can provide data that served the same purpose as the needs analysis — to identify new changes required.

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Evaluation case study

In this section, we outline a comprehensive evaluation report from New South Wales that clearly shows the evaluation methodology.

Lane Cove, New South Wales

The Municipality of Lane Cove is on Sydney’s lower north shore and is just over 10 square kilometres in size.

In early 2014, the Lane Cove Council commenced the development of an Age-Friendly Lane Cove Strategy in accordance with the requirements of the WHO Global Age-Friendly Cities and Communities Project. The purpose of this initiative was to assist Council to respond to the challenges of an ageing population and to foster an environment that promotes active ageing and community engagement.

The evaluation

Consultants were engaged to undertake a baseline evaluation and to use this information to develop an action plan which addressed suggestions for improvement. The project took a ‘bottom up’ approach where consultation with people aged 55 years and older formed the basis for the evaluation and strategy.

A baseline evaluation assessed age-friendliness through the eyes of the older people of Lane Cove and their carers. The evaluation was designed to inform the Council’s action plan and to enable the evaluation to be repeated after three years to identify and measure what had changed.

The evaluation included a survey and consultations. Participants were asked to rate the Council’s age friendliness, to make suggestions for change and how they might participate in implementing projects. A total of 479 people participated in the evaluation. The online survey included demographic questions and 8 additional questions, each reflecting one of the 8 domains using the following format:

  • a short summary of the domain
  • one question asking participants to rate the age-friendliness of the Council against the domain using a scale of 1 to 5 (poor to excellent)
  • one question asking the participant to make suggestions for improvements in the domain that included a list of prompts relating to characteristics of the domain.

The consultations included community forums and workshops designed to be accessible for older people. Consultation included 13 general community forums, 11 focus groups and a workshop for senior Council staff. Participants were asked to discuss what worked and their ideas for improvement in relation to each of the domains.

The evaluation report summarises participants’ comments and suggestions relating to each domain. It also includes the average score for each domain and percentages for each response rating. These measures will provide a useful comparison for Lane Cove’s evaluation of their impact and outcomes over time. The evaluation report also provides suggestions for improvement and priorities for each domain.

The Council’s website shows a clear link between the evaluation report and the ‘Strategy for an Age-Friendly Lane Cove, 2014–2017’ which includes goals for each domain. It was adopted by Council in June 2015. The website also includes an information booklet for community members which summarises the evaluation findings and outlines the Council’s commitment to the age-friendly strategy. The Council’s web page also outlines a commitment to provide community updates on a 6-monthly basis.

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