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Within UK Operations, as part of their Independent Living and Crisis Response service offer, the British Red Cross delivers First Call – Support at Home, which supports vulnerable people to help them recover from a crisis, increase confidence and remain independent at home for longer. It is a volunteer-led, person-centred service, which provides up to 12 weeks of support and flexes to the needs of the individual.

What CSAIF funded: the British Red Cross was awarded £388,721 (including £60,000 for evaluation) to replicate their First Call model across two new local communities in England. The grant has allowed the team to support more than 900 people across Leicester City and Rutland by mobilising 26 committed volunteers, who give upwards of 1.5 days per week on average. View the full impact evaluation.

About the evaluation

Level on Standards: level 2 - you capture data that shows positive change, but you cannot confirm you caused this.

Evaluator: Sheffield Hallam University

Aim: the evaluation aimed to investigate the impact of the ‘First Call’ programme on British Red Cross’ clients across Leicester and Rutland.

Key findings:

  1. By the end of the project, 202 service users had set goals. Improved ability to manage day-to-day activities and improved social networks and friendships were the most common goal outcome areas. Two-thirds of these goals had been achieved by the end of the project.
  2. The key outcomes secured by the service included improved ability to manage day-to-day activities; improved social networks and friendships; enhanced feelings of safety and security; and increased satisfaction with the home environment.
  3. The service also played an important role facilitating the engagement of older people with other services.

Methodology:

Method: the impact element of the approach focused on the collection and analysis of gross outcome change data on service users and adjusting this by what plausibly would have happened in the absence of First Call (the counterfactual) to calculate the net additional impacts. Data from primary and secondary sources was drawn on to determine change and net additional impact.

These included data from: (i) routine monitoring data; (ii) a baseline self-reported survey competed prior to the 12 week course against which to measure change; (iii) an end of service self-reported survey at the end of the 12 week course to elicit an early measurement of impact; and (iv) semi-structured, face to face interviews with 36 service users

Participants: the 36 interview participants were purposefully selected, with 47 participants completing the pre-/post- survey. Demographically, First Call’s users are: (i) two thirds female and one third male; (ii) 88 per cent of referrals were White British/Irish; reflective of the populations of the two areas this percentage varied from 77 per cent in Leicester to 99 per cent in Rutland; and (iii) the majority of service users for whom an age was provided were aged 75 years or older.

Why this Level: with support from Sheffield Hallam University, British Red Cross have delivered an evaluation that suggests a positive change over time for the individuals that it supports. The report is clearly written, with some excellent qualitative data and brief discussion of monitoring and pre-/post- data. For future evaluation work, it would be good for BRC to (i) focus on expanding their sample size, and (ii) utilise previously validated measurement tools

About the evidence journey

Progress: the evaluation measured how effective First Call has been in producing outcomes / the cost per outcome; and the extent to which outcomes have occurred due to First Call activities. BRC have developed a Theory of Change for the First Call Service which has been validated by CRESR. They have also worked with BRC to put in place a monitoring framework which captures inputs, outputs, activities and outcomes at a service user level, which outlines the monitoring data that were collected by BRC and what it contributed to assessment of impact and value for money. This has increased their capacity to collate, understand and measure the intervention’s impact.

Lessons learned: in accordance with the findings from the evaluation, BRC are currently developing their Knowledge and Learning plans along the following points:

  • To ensure that systems and processes for data capture and reporting mechanisms are robust, efficient and effective for data collection, reporting and performance management
  • To build internal capacity of area teams to grow collective knowledge and skills in evaluation, support planning and service user need
  • To share knowledge and skills and understand evaluation impact on service user outcomes and service development
  • To ensure that they can provide safe and effective services to their service users and that we can evidence the difference we make to people’s lives
  • To develop a multidisciplinary approach to achieving their organisational objectives by making the best use of knowledge.

Next steps

BRC’s intention is to continue to grow their evidence base by expanding the service across four new sites UK wide. They have made an internal commitment to fund scaling of the model across two sites, commencing in 2016 and a further two sites in 2017; eight new First Call – Support at Home sites in total. They are committed to further expanding the First Call – Support at Home model with a mixed portfolio of funding and are seeking opportunities to achieve this UK wide.

They are currently developing a CRM system which will enable them to grow and develop their evidence base - this will commence implementation in early 2017. Their new sites will be early adopters of this system. BRC will also continue to evaluate the impact of new sites, as they scale the First Call – Support at Home model UK wide.