At Brightlife we used a combination of direct delivery and commissioning, to provide the widest possible range of services to over-50s in Cheshire West and Chester.
Every project or service commissioned or delivered by Brightlife was required to participate in the formal evaluation, conducted on both a regional scale (by the University of Chester) and a national scale (by Ecorys UK).
The purpose of the formal evaluation was to provide evidence about what works – and what doesn’t – to reduce loneliness and social isolation amongst over-50s.
This evidence has the potential to not only improve the lives and wellbeing of current service users by informing the transformation of existing provision, but also to achieve long-term improvement of delivery within the sector by influencing future commissioning decisions.
The Ageing Better programme was evaluated at a national level by an organisation called Ecorys UK. Participants and volunteers from all projects and services commissioned or delivered by regional Ageing Better Partners – including Brightlife – were asked to complete a questionnaire called a CMF (Common Measurement Framework).
The responses provided were entered into a national database and analysed to capture the journey of participants and volunteers from when they entered a project or service to when they left.
Brightlife was evaluated at a local level by the University of Chester, through its Centre for Ageing and Mental Health. In addition to analysing the data from the CMF questionnaires, the university team carried out interviews with participants, volunteers, commissioned providers and project staff.
They also undertook a Social Return on Investment (SROI) study to understand the wider impact of Brightlife on the local health and social care sector. Their findings were compiled into a comprehensive report on the social connectivity of older people living in Cheshire West and Chester, to inform the development of a sustainable community engagement plan.
Commissioned providers were supported through the formal evaluation process, with various levels of training and advice available according to the needs of each provider.