Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Evaluation of the Reducing Social Isolation and Loneliness Grant Programme

Social isolation and loneliness in older people is a widespread issue that has gained much attention in recent years. We know that being isolated and lonely can impact on a person’s quality of life and lead to more intensive use of health and social care services.

In Manchester the three Clinical Commissioning Groups provided grant funding targeted to reduce social isolation and loneliness amongst Manchester residents aged 50+. Grants were awarded to voluntary sector organisations to deliver 27 projects across the city. The Programme ran from September 2014 until March 2016 and was managed by Manchester Community Central (Macc).

OPM was commissioned to evaluated the Grant Programme. The evaluation sought to demonstrate outcomes and provide evidence around ‘what works and why’.

This presentation was delivered at the final Programme celebration event attended by representatives from the CCGs, other North West CCGs, Manchester City Council, Macc, local research organisations, plus VCS leads and volunteers from across the city. It presents the headline findings from the evaluation and showcases two projects in depth. Our final evaluation report will be available in the coming months.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Evaluation of the Multi-Systemic Therapy Social Impact Bond

Evaluation of the Essex Multi-Systemic Therapy Social Impact Bond

Essex County Council (ECC) Family Operations Service currently provides access to Multi-Systemic Therapy (MST) to young people who meet the referral criteria. This service is aimed at supporting young people and their families where there is a risk of a young person entering care (which also includes young people remanded into custody), and has the intention of keeping the young person within the family home whenever it is safe to do so. This service is being funded via a Social Impact Bond (SIB) and is being delivered by an external provider.

In 2013 OPM were commissioned to deliver a three-year independent evaluation of the MST SIB, using funding from Central Government.

The evaluation will generate:

The evaluation involves capturing both qualitative and quantitative data. This is the first of two interim reports and presents the findings from the first eighteen months of evaluation activities. The evaluation will run until March 2016, culminating in a final summative report.

Monday, September 21, 2015

OPM continues social impact bonds knowledge sharing relationship with Japanese universities

Earlier this month we were delighted to welcome an SIB research delegation led by Meiji University back to OPM.

The visit is the latest development in the partnership supporting a 5 year empirical study funded by the Japanese Government into how social impact investments, especially SIBs, affect governments, social service providers, service users, and the standard of social services in the UK – further evidence of the interest internationally in the progression of the UK social impact bonds market since the world’s first was implemented in Peterborough Prison 5 years ago.

The delegation first visited OPM last November to hear about our experiences evaluating the Essex County Council SIB and ‘Peninsula LIST’ project, and continuing the relationship in April OPM’s Director of Business Development Dr Chih Hoong Sin spoke at the 2015 Social Investing and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Forum, held at Meiji University in Tokyo – presenting his observations of the nature of the ‘first wave’ of UK SIBs and the lessons to be learned from the world’s most developed market.

OPM’s expertise, it is hoped, will contribute to the launch of the 1st Japanese social impact bond.

This latest meeting was particularly timely. At the time of writing the UK still accounts for the largest number of SIBs globally (31), having been the first to pioneer the pay-for-performance vehicle that leverages private funding to finance public services five years ago. In addition, Social Finance had recently announced details of the first UK social impact bonds to perform above expectations and deliver outcomes sufficient to return investor capital earlier than expected. 

Yet the international backdrop is more mixed.

The Riker’s Island SIB, which aimed to reduce recidivism among 16 to 18-year-olds who entered New York City’s Rikers prison by at least 10% had been terminated due to failing to achieve the agreed targets, while a new report from the Brookings Institute (Chih Hoong Sin is referenced as a study participant on page 52 and OPM’s evaluation of the Essex Family Therapy SIB features on page 84) this summer called for increased transparency and knowledge sharing on the potential and limitations of impact bonds to move this agenda – how to better ensure the achievement of outcomes for vulnerable populations – forward.

In this context we were in a position to update our Japanese colleagues on the progress of our evaluation of the ‘Essex SIB’ – the first in the world to be commissioned by a local authority – and the ‘Peninsula LIST Project’, that aimed to use an SIB as vehicle to commission public services across 4 local authorities in the South West of England.


If you would like to find out more about OPM’s evaluations of the ‘Essex SIB’ and ‘Peninsula LIST’ projects, please contact Chih Hoong Sin, Director of Business Development at CSin@opm.co.uk or on 0207 239 7877.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Evaluation of AQuA’s Leading Integrated System Level Change Programme

The Advancing Quality Alliance (AQuA) is a membership quality improvement organisation supporting NHS and social care commissioners, providers and their partners.

In April 2014, AQuA began delivery of a new support programme ‘Leading Integrated System Level Change 2014/15’. The programme was designed to meet member requests for support to collaboratively lead system integration, as they moved towards and progressed with the implementation of integrated care.

OPM was commissioned to undertake an independent evaluation of the programme that commenced in May 2014 and ran until May 2015. The aims of the evaluation were to provide an understanding of how the model and elements of the programme supported large scale system change, and to explore the transferability of the model to other system level reforms.

OPM evaluation leads worked with AQuA Faculty leads to co-produce the detailed evaluation themes, evaluation framework and methodology. The evaluation drew on economy applications to the programme, the workshop evaluations completed after each master class, and AQuA’s System Integration Framework Assessment Tool data. OPM also undertook two waves of fieldwork with participating economies.



Friday, March 13, 2015

Early Language Development Programme celebrates successful roll out and positive impacts on practitioners and families

The Early Language Development Programme (ELDP) led by I CAN, the children’s communication charity, celebrated its successful roll out at an event hosted by OPM yesterday.

Funded by the Department for Education, the ELDP is a national training programme that increases awareness, knowledge and confidence amongst the early years workforce supporting children’s speech, language and communication development on a national and local basis. Over 1,000 lead practitioners have been trained via the ELDP cascading to over 16,000 local practitioners who in turn have supported over 150,000 parents and carers.

The ELDP was evaluated by OPM, in partnership with Sheffield University. The report is available for download here.

At the celebration event, OPM and Sheffield University highlighted that the ELDP has been shown to change practice that is sustained over time and revealed:

Edward Timpson MP, Minister for Children and Families, said: “A skilled early years workforce and informed parents are essential for ensuring children develop good communications skills early on.

“I’m delighted the Early Language Development Programme (ELDP), funded by the Department for Education and led by I CAN, has had such a positive impact on practitioners, parents, carers and children, with early indications showing improvements in the language development of children aged 0-3.”

Virginia Beardshaw CBE, I CAN CEO, says: “I CAN has driven forward the ELDP, with support from consortium partners, to fundamentally improve and enhance the quality of early years provision. Over 1,000 lead practitioners have been trained to cascade information on supporting young children’s communication and language to their networks of local practitioners through the ELDP.

“Parents involved in the programme have increased their confidence through activities they can use at home helping to give their children the best start in life. We are thrilled that the ELDP makes a tangible difference to early years practice and is positively impacting on children and families. It is fantastic that these results have come through so clearly in the OPM and Sheffield University evaluation report.

“Getting support and identification right in the early years means that fewer children are starting school without the basic skills they need to learn and make friends. Importantly, children with SLCN can receive support at the earliest stage when it can really make a difference. I would like to thank ELDP’s consortium partners – the Pre-school Learning Alliance, Action for Children, the Children’s Society and Elklan – for the commitment and expertise they have given to the programme.“

Donna Link, Directorate for People – Foundation Years Parenting Support Team, in Birmingham says: “As the largest local authority in Europe, with over 100 languages spoken and 87,000 under fives in authority, we were excited to be involved with the ELDP.

“Once the programme was underway we received feedback of increased knowledge, confidence and awareness to support children’s early language development from our local practitioners. Importantly, the programme renewed enthusiasm for further learning and improvements in practice and increased confidence in sharing support and advice with parents and carers.”

ELDP photo of Lauren & Oli

Speakers included Lauren Roberts from OPM (pictured), Sian Ansell from Essex County Council and Dr Judy Clegg from Sheffield University.


The ELDP celebration event gathered leading early years organisations and individuals to debate the programme’s evaluation and plans to sustain the ELDP legacy post March 2015.

Following the event, Sheffield University will be publishing the results of a case study series looking at detailed outcomes for 30 children involved in ELDP with early findings highlighting improvements in children’s language.

Moving forward, I CAN will be offering training for practitioners that can also contribute to their portfolio going towards a national level 3 qualification in supporting children and young people’s speech, language and communication. The ELDP can be purchased by individuals, organisations or whole local authorities with flexible training that is tailored to suit local needs.

For further information on the ELDP, or to find out more about the legacy of the programme, visit www.talkingpoint.org.uk/eldp

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Evaluation of the Early Language Development Programme

The Early Language Development Programme (ELDP), commissioned and funded by the Department for Education (DfE), and delivered by a consortium led by I CAN, aimed to increase practitioner capability by adopting a cascade approach to training and awareness-raising. The programme built on learning from previous early years speech, language and communication development programmes, including Every Child a Talker (ECaT) and Early Talk 0-3.

This evaluation of the ELDP captures the impacts arising from the programme; learning regarding the processes involved in delivering and cascading the programme; and the economic costs of delivering it. Qualitative and quantitative methods were employed, including surveys, interviews, observations, cost data analysis and the development of case studies.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Big Local early years evaluation

Local Trust sets out a grassroots vision for the future as it publishes the findings from an evaluation into the progress of Big Local

Community change champion Local Trust, which manages the Big Local programme, today published findings from its initial evaluation of the 150 communities across England taking part in the programme, which is aiming to make a lasting positive difference in those communities by inspiring genuine grassroots involvement and decision making. OPM was one of the partners who worked on this project, and we were delighted to take part as the programme is such an innovative and different way of working.

The evaluation involved analysis of programme data and reports, as well as primary research involving surveys, interviews, observation visits, case studies and workshops with residents in Big Local areas. The research team engaged with almost 400 stakeholders from 90 Big Local areas as well as staff involved in supporting the programme nationally and at the local level.

The programme has seen success through being truly resident-led in its approach: over 90% of active community members surveyed said they felt confident that they had based their plans on what residents had identified as most needed in their area and 88% are confident in their ability to make Big Local happen.

Some other key findings of the report are:

Local Trust wants the initial evaluation and overall approach of the programme to influence other charities, policy makers, service providers and funders to consider a different approach to community improvement, giving power and control to residents to help deliver sustainable, tangible change for local areas.

Debbie Ladds, chief executive of Local Trust, said: “Organisations are often guilty of thinking they know best. We want to challenge this mindset and demonstrate how a resident-led approach can be much more effective and empowering. It is early days for Big Local, but the results of our initial evaluation are promising and we’re confident that giving control to residents is the way to achieve lasting positive change.”

Other positive impacts include growth in confidence among residents and those who support them and an increased sense of community with hubs becoming catalysts for entrepreneurial activity. Examples of projects include giving new life to disused buildings and thinking about new ways to use existing community resources, with many areas also using in-kind contributions to help make their money go further.

You can read the full report here, or a shorter summary here.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Rural library services in England: exploring recent changes and possible futures

In recent years, public library services have undergone – and continue to undergo – a huge amount of change. That change has been felt across library services, but due to their limited size and lower footfall, rural libraries have been placed under particular pressure and have gone through some of the most radical changes in the way they are operated. Commissioned by Defra and Arts Council England. Following the 2013 reports Envisioning the Library of the Future and Community libraries: Learning from Experience, this research explores what the experience has been – and could be in future – for rural libraries specifically. The research comprised:

The general conclusions are positive, highlighting that rural communities face specific challenges and opportunities but have rallied around to improve and expand library services.  Building on this, the most successful and sustainable rural libraries will contribute to a range of local outcomes, attract income and provide access to many different services and activities, otherwise missing in many rural areas, if local authorities plan strategically.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Closing the Gap through Changing Relationships: evaluation

The Health Foundation’s Closing the Gap through Changing Relationships programme was launched in 2010. The programme funded seven projects, which aimed to change one or more of three types of relationships:

This report programme evaluation, carried out by OPM, looks at:

  1. how and whether each of the projects led to relationships changing;
  2. how change was experienced by the different actors;
  3. the key barriers to, and promoters of, success.

In addition to the evaluation report, an ‘improvement story’ was developed for each of the projects. These stories are available to download in the supplement to the report.

The evaluation found that changing relationships is about fundamental change and requires an explicit and sustained focus. It is not something that can simply be articulated or aspired to and then left to happen on its own. Relationships do not change simply because of good intentions. In order to be purposive and stay focused, it is vital to:

More details of the programme and the seven projects are available in the programme section of The Health Foundation’s website. A number of the teams have agreed to share their final project reports, which are available on the project learning pages.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Evaluation of the Proactive Grants Programme in Autism

In April 2013, the Clothworkers’ Foundation commissioned OPM and independent consultant Linda Redford to evaluate the Proactive Grants Programme in Autism (PGPA).

The PGPA was established in 2008, with £1.25 million allocated over five years. The programme’s aims were to: improve the lives of people with autism and their families/carers; improve awareness, knowledge and understanding of the condition; and contribute to raising the profile of the sector at a local and national level.

The evaluation considered the impacts of the six funded projects, and generated learning around the proactive grants process. It included interviews with the Clothworkers’ Foundation, recipients of proactive and open grants, beneficiaries of the funded projects and stakeholders in the wider autism sector, as well as online surveys and a review of project documentation.