As we relaunch our outcome measurement tool, SafeLives Insights, Senior Research Analyst and Lead for Insights, Jane Evans, talks about how she believes understanding data can help services offer the best possible support to people experiencing domestic abuse.
SafeLives Insights is an outcome measurement tool that helps services to understand and demonstrate their impact. Visit the Insights pages for more.
Hi Jane. Could you tell me a bit about your research background?
I started out working in children and adult social services departments; I also worked for a children’s safeguarding board and an adults safeguarding board. In those roles domestic abuse came up a lot – especially as part of the Serious Case Reviews conducted by the safeguarding boards.
Later I worked in policy research in the education sector, for a school leadership union. That’s where a lot of my research experience comes from – particularly in terms of how you can communicate research, and convey messages with data. That’s really important for my work with Insights because we’re trying to communicate the evidence that the service has gathered about their work. We want to make sure that services can easily understand what the data is telling them, and also that their impact can be clearly evidenced to support funding and commissioning.
What kind of services does the Insights team work with?
We work with all sorts of different domestic abuse services: Idva services, Outreach, refuges, children’s domestic abuse services, specialist sexual violence services and others. Sometimes the services we work with will have lots of different types of provision, and sometimes they’re very specialist. We also work with other sectors such as housing associations who provide much more than domestic abuse support, but use Insights to capture that part of their work – so it’s a really broad range.
Can you think of some examples of how the Insights team has helped services to change the way they offer support, based on their data?
This is really the goal with Insights, and something we’ve tried to improve on in our new system; there will be lots more opportunities to build in practice advice as part of the service we offer. When we present the data we always make sure to highlight areas of development that the service might want to explore.
A common example would be looking at different referral routes into the service – so highlighting any gaps there and looking at where there are opportunities to work with certain other local organisations. For instance referrals from Health can often be quite low, so services have an opportunity to use some of our recommendations around how to engage with Health and look to improve that.
We can also look at gaps in terms of particular groups coming into their service, so if the percentage of people within a certain demographic group coming into the service is significantly lower than we might expect from the local population, the service may want to consider how they can better reach that section of the community.
You’ve touched on the fact that Insights is changing – can you tell me more about what’s new and how you think it’s going to benefit services?
We’re changing almost every aspect of Insights. We’re going to be using new software which makes it easier for services to both input and access their data. It’s going to be really user-friendly; you can instantly download reports that summarise your data for a specific time period or role, as often and in as many different ways as you want. This means you’ll have really up to date information about your service, so for instance whenever you need to write a funding report you can get the data you need.
The new system also has a modular approach, so it’s going to be really easy to add multiple different forms that examine different aspects of your work in more detail. So for example a service might choose to add on a module about mental health for 12 months to better understand that part of their provision.
We’ve also made sure we really focus on client outcomes. So the questions focus not just on what support is provided, but where that support is having an impact – on both the client’s safety and their wellbeing. We’ve also expanded some questions that the clients can complete themselves, to give their own view of the support they’ve received – which is really valuable for services, but also for funders and commissioners. We’re making our reports more focussed on the ‘so what?’ questions, to help services work out which interventions work best for which clients.
Alongside this we’re reforming the service that we offer – so the different packages that the services can choose are more flexible and affordable. They can choose a basic package and then add extra features on: so they might choose to have a written report, or an annual presentation, or for us to do a certain piece of bespoke analysis. We can also do things like analyse their internal data alongside the Insights data if they want us to.
And as well as being easier for the services to use, this new system will free up more of our researchers’ time, so we can spend more time working with services, getting to know them and looking at their data in more depth.
It sounds like a lot of thought has gone into the redevelopment?
Yes! All the changes have come out of consultation with services: we’ve run workshops, spoken to practitioners, and had really valuable feedback about what services really want and need from Insights. A lot of the new focussed modules came out of feedback from services who work with a specific group of clients. For example, we work with a service supporting migrant women who have very specific issues around migration, and they’ll be helping us to develop a specialist module on this area. We’re really excited about the new system and can’t wait to start working with services.
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