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Research and Evaluation: How A Case Study Comes Together

Research and Evaluation is a vital aspect of the Fulfilling Lives programme, informing and developing the programme over the 8 years we’re funded for. Through sharing information: decisions and discussions can be made with greater validity; general information can become better known; client stories can be told with less bias; research can be contextualised; bids can be supported; good relationships fostered; and training can be evaluated and improved. Research and Evaluation is, in short, a constant journey in realising where we have been, where we are now, and what we have potential to become in the future. Here, our Research and Evaluation Assistant – Caroline – explains how our client case studies are created and how they shape our programme.

Case studies are important because they add meaning to figures and statistics. They can detail the intricacies of people’s lives, sometimes even explaining actions and events with reasoned discussion. This is an important part of research for people with multiple and complex needs because often they are seen as their ‘support needs’ or ‘problems’ rather than holistically as a whole person.

Case studies can also be useful for exploring how services in the system work as they are often complex and can’t be explained using facts and figures alone. As Eysenck (1976) said, “proof is hard to come by in social science because of the absence of ‘hard’ theory, whereas learning is certainly a possibility”, and this learning is what the best case studies can most effectively support.

“Research and Evaluation is, in short, a constant journey in realising where we have been, where we are now, and what we have potential to become in the future.”

As a researcher I am sometimes responsible for contributing case studies to progress reports. One example of this was during a recent quarter where I produced a case study for a client who was experiencing difficulty in accessing medication. This client also had a very positive working relationship with one of our Service Navigators, and it was important to show both aspects of this story. This Navigator produced a basic case study which I then asked for further information on. I completed this case study and asked the Navigator what they had learnt through supporting this client. I then asked one of the Fulfilling Lives’ System Brokers, who has knowledge and works around dual diagnosis, for learning he had taken from the case study.

This collaborative approach ensured different perspectives were encompassed, aiming to lessen the impact of bias. It was not intended for the client to be the audience of this case study but the Navigator chose to share it with them, resulting in the client reacting really positively to it. This was a particularly good day as it showed the sometimes unexpected and reflective impact research can have. This case study is going to be submitted in the next progress report which is based on Access to Mental Health and will be shared with relevant groups and people.

“Case studies are important because they add meaning to figures and statistics. They can detail the intricacies of people’s lives, sometimes even explaining actions and events with reasoned discussion. This is an important part of research for people with multiple and complex needs because often they are seen as their ‘support needs’ or ‘problems’ rather than holistically as a whole person.”

Fulfilling Lives Newcastle and Gateshead have also shared case studies to illustrate the experience of a Northumbria CRC worker seconded as a Fulfilling Lives Service Navigator. We have also shown the experience of a client who has been accessing Universal Credit and shared this information with the local DWP. This has been impactful in their understanding of our client experience of Universal Credit. A number of other case studies have been shared and will be continued to be shared which will hopefully describe and explain: the system, the client journey, and Fulfilling Lives’ work with clients.