Midlands Evaluation Community of Practice

Our evaluation network brings together staff with an interest in or responsibility for evaluation in their system. It provides a space to share information, ideas and resources, as well as seek advice and guidance from one another

Welcome to the Evaluation Community of Practice

The evaluation network has over 60 members from the Midlands Decision Support Network (and beyond!)

Our main Community of Practice meetings take place online every two months. Members regularly present their work at these meetings, and they are an opportunity for members to share and learn from each other. We also have a small group of members who meet regularly to work on a collaborative project to share learning about the evaluation of social prescribing interventions.

Our Evaluation Community of Practice is led by Paul Mason (Principal Consultant and Head of Evaluation at the Strategy Unit). He has 25 years’ experience of applied research; specialising in mixed-method, complex programme evaluation. He spent the first 11 years of his career as a research and senior research fellow in universities, and more than ten years in private sector consultancy before joining the Unit in 2019. He is an expert in programme theory and logic model approaches; and in working with marginalised groups. He has a particular interest in rapid evaluation to support innovation.

We are always looking for more members to join the community of practice, and new faces are always welcome! To join this community of practice or to volunteer to present at a future meeting, please contact Paul Mason

What we have done so far:

Produced MDSN guide to evaluation principles and practice

Evaluation is a process for learning about what works and how outcomes can be improved.

This guide has been produced to take you through the process, and considerations, in designing and delivering a high quality evaluation – whatever your resources. It is written for people at all levels with an interest in evaluation – whether you are thinking about delivering it in-house, commissioning it from an external provider, working with the DSC and our host organisation the Strategy Unit, or are not sure and need to think the process through to decide what is right for you.

For more information, visit the evaluation guide in the guidance section – Evaluation Guide

Developed evaluation training programme

In 2021/2022, 3 training courses were developed for local decision support units:

  • Introduction to Evaluation
  • Qualitative Research 1 (data collection)
  • Qualitative Research 2 (data analysis)

In 2022/2023, two training courses were delivered:

  • Introduction to Realist Evaluation
  • Ethics in Evaluation

Produced a literature review of social prescribing

A Social Prescribing Literature Review has been produced to support the MDSN Evaluation Community of Practice (CoP) collaborative social prescribing evaluation project. Please click on the link below.

Meeting dates and papers

The next Evaluation Community of Practice meeting is scheduled for 18th of July 23 at 10am.

We will be running an interactive workshop to work together to develop a set of ethical principles which will form part of the ethics code of practice for the Evaluation Community of Practice.

If you would like to attend this meeting, please contact Paul Mason

Previous meetings and information

29th March 2022

Evaluation Community of Practice held on 29th March 22 – Lisa Cummins from the Health Economics Unit (and Evaluation CoP member) presented the ‘Challenges of carrying out economic evaluation locally’. Lisa went through an introduction to economic evaluation and gave an example of a recent project, highlighting the challenges and limitations. Copies of the slides can be found here: MSDN Eval COP 29 Mar 22 Agenda & UpdatesEconomic Evaluations Slides

24th May 2022

Evaluation Community of Practice meeting held on 24th May 22 – discussions took please around shaping the CoP for 22/23.  It included our training offer, collaborative evaluation projects and ideas/topic discussions for future meetings. Copies of the slides can be found here: MDSN Eval COP 24 May 22 Agenda & updates Outcomes from the meeting will be shared in due course.

19th July 2022

Evaluation Community of Practice held on 19th July 22 – Vicky Powers from Derbyshire County Council, presented on: Evaluating a behavioural science approach to increasing the take up of advice services offered to residents in economic hardship. Derbyshire County Council ran two Randomised Control Trials testing a SMS based intervention designed to increase the take up of advice services by applicants to the county’s Local Welfare Assistance Scheme. The project lead, Vicky Powers, talked through the trial design, the unexpected results and the benefits and challenges of running an RCT in this context. Copies of the slides can be found here.

20th September 2022

Evaluation Community of Practice held on 20th September 22  Louise Schmidt and Jiri Chard from NHSE presented information around evaluation capacity, operating models and approaches and also discussed examples of evaluation projects at NHSE.

6th December 2022

Evaluation Community of Practice held on 6th December 22 – Sheila Ali from the Strategy Unit presented on a process evaluation of an affordable warmth programme which is funded by cost-savings from electricity generated by solar panels. You can read more about this evaluation here

31st January 2023

Evaluation Community of Practice held on 31st January 23 – We had a reflective discussion about the training in realist evaluation which was delivered by Dr Justin Jagosh earlier in January. COP member Andrew Down from the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust presented on an evaluation of the prescribing of medicines as a service for people with personality disorders. Copies of the slides can be found here.

21st March 2023

Evaluation Community of Practice held on 21st March 23 – We had a reflective discussion about the training in ethics in Evaluation which was delivered by Dr Helen Kara in February, and discussed how to take forward the ethical principles in our evaluation work and as a community of practice. COP member Gareth Hooper (from the Healthier Futures Academy, Black Country ICB) presented about Social Prescribing across the Black Country.

23rd May 2023

Evaluation Community of Practice held on 23rd May 23 – Abeda Mulla PhD from the Strategy Unit presented an interactive session about rapid cycle evaluations.

Our plans for 2023/24

  • Continuing to develop the Midlands Evaluation Community of Practice as a forum for improving evaluation across our region
  • Sharing of local case studies and learning from these
  • Continuing work on the collaborative project on social prescribing, working towards producing an output of our shared learning
  • Providing ad-hoc advice and support to Midlands Intelligence Functions and research teams about their local evaluations
  • Our training programme is paused for the time being but we regularly signpost members to the MDSN’s core training programme