Evaluation of the National Advocacy Programme - Bulletin1

Welcome to the first the monthly Bulletins that aims to keep you informed about the evaluation of the National Advocacy Programme. The Bulletins will give information about the learning from the Initiative, for example, by showing how the programme is working on the ground in residential homes for older people that are participating in the programme.


What is the National Advocacy Programme?


The National Advocacy Programme is a hugely important initiative in reaching out to some of the most vulnerable and isolated older people living in residential homes. It began in 2006 in response to the controversy at the Leas Cross Nursing Home, which pointed to the need for older people to have access to advocacy services, in amongst other areas. Volunteer Advocates have been trained to provide volunteer advocacy services in participating residential homes. They are supported by Development Officers at the regional level. A National Advocacy Programme Alliance has also been established with representatives from the HSE, statutory and voluntary agencies. The programme also works closely with the relevant HSE service providers, such as services for older people and elder abuse officers. There are seven principles underpinning the National Advocacy Programme:


  1. Empowerment of the older person

  2. Respect for the person and his/her wishes and rights

  3. Protection of rights

  4. Acting in the person’s best interests

  5. Acting independently

  6. Maintaining confidentiality

  7. Acting with diligence and competence  


What is advocacy?


Advocacy is an important tool for empowering people and in giving people support to claim their rights and entitlements, for example, in having access to the benefits or services that they are entitled to.


An independent advocacy service is particularly valuable as it enables a person who has been trained to provide information, advice and support to an older person. In some cases this will be sufficient to enable a person to make a decision about what they want to do, while in other cases it may be necessary for the advocate to negotiate on his/her behalf to get the service that s/he needs.


Advocacy includes a wide range of actions which start with building trust and relationships with older people, providing information, giving support to access services or benefits, speaking up on behalf of an older person or negotiating on their behalf.


What are the objectives of the evaluation?

  • To evaluate the degree to which the objectives of the Advocacy Programme have been met;

  • To evaluate the management of the programme and the services provided;

  • To give an overview of the programme and identify gaps in service provision;

  • Identify the learning from the programme, what works and what does not work, good practices and areas for further development;

  • Make recommendations for the future of the programme, including a model of service delivery that fosters a network of advocacy services.


What will the evaluation be doing?


In the evaluation we want to identify and highlight what works and how advocacy services can best developed and implemented. This is particularly important to giving an evidence base for the impact of the advocacy programme, as well as documenting the methods and practices that are required for a successful and sustainable advocacy programme in the future.

What will be evaluated?

There are three elements to the advocacy programme that will be evaluated:

a) Advocacy programme: the role of the Volunteer Advocates, services provided and support given to Volunteer Advocates in carrying out their roles; the role of Development Officers in supporting Volunteer Advocates; and the role and impact of the programme in participating residential homes.

b) Information programme: the information programme provided for older people, residents and families on www.myhomefromhome.ie

c) Training programme: National College of Ireland training programme for Volunteer Advocates and Personal excellence training for staff in residential homes.

How will the evaluation be carried out?

There are a number of different methods being used in the evaluation. These include:


    1. Questionnaires for Volunteer Advocates, Development Officers and participating residential homes.

  1. Interviews with members of NAPA, relevant organisations e.g. HIQA, CIB; HSE staff in older people’s services / elder abuse officers; policy makers in HSE and Department of Health; programme management staff / representatives of NAPA sub-groups.

  2. Focus groups with Development Officers and a cross-section of Volunteer Advocates. Consideration will also be given to holding a focus group with NAPA representatives to present draft recommendations.

  3. Detailed case studies of 10-12 participating homes to include interviews with Directors of Nursing / residential home staff; interviews with Volunteer Advocates and interviews with older people using the advocacy services

  4. Regular bulletins (of which this is the first) outlining the evaluation, programme learning, examples and case studies of impact, etc.

When will the evaluation be carried out?

The evaluation of the National Advocacy Programme is being carried out between September and December 2010.


How can you contact me?


You can contact me by email janep@iol.ie or by mobile: 086 809 3063.


Many thanks and I look forward to meeting participants in the National Advocacy Programme over the next three months.


Dr Jane Pillinger, Evaluator for the HSE National Advocacy Programme

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