Starting a new year can often make people a bit reflective, and here at the Association for Dementia Studies we’re no different. We’ve been involved in numerous research projects over the years, with a lot of that research feeding into and underpinning our education. While we’re proud of what we’ve done, it tends to be a bit odd when a project finishes as we don’t always get to see what happens next. Who reads our reports and takes any recommendations on board? Who uses our resources and makes a change as a result? Who takes their learning back to the workplace and makes a change to their practice or work setting? Who benefits from what we’re doing and are they local, national or even international?
Basically, how do we know that we’re having an impact and how significant is that?
In terms of our education, we do get some feedback from students if their course involves completing a short project or if they apply for the Hennell Award where they are required to show what they’ve done as a result of being on one of our courses. With our research it can be trickier, especially if the output is a resource that can be freely downloaded. How can we reach people if we don’t know who they are? We often don’t have the time and resources to do any follow-up activities either, as other research projects have generally taken over.
So what can we do?
We’re currently in the process of exploring different options, but a couple of things we’ve already put in place are:
- Providing students on our Postgraduate Certificate modules with a template document encouraging them to keep a record of any changes they make to their practice as a result of their studies. While this can be useful for us if we want to ask students for any examples, it can also give the students themselves a bit of a boost to see what they’ve achieved.
- Having feedback surveys available alongside some of our resources, such as the CHARM framework manual. When people go to download a copy of the manual they will also see a link to a survey asking them to say how they’ve used the manual in their work. It doesn’t always pan out as it relies on people remembering and being willing to complete the survey once they’ve had time to use the manual, but it’s better than nothing.
Hopefully we’ll have other options available soon, but if you ever see any requests from us asking for feedback please consider taking the time to get involved. We’d really appreciate it, even if it’s not particularly positive, as it will help us to improve and know that our work is having some form of impact. You can also just email us with any comments or examples of what you’ve been doing, you don’t need to wait for us to ask (please send anything to email@example.com and put ‘impact/feedback’ in the email subject line). Thank you!