Tracking Outcomes that Matter

September 16 2021

Sara Riel has launched a report on the success of their mental health support programming, titled Outcomes that Matter. They’ve homed in on what is helping those they support and how to best measure that. “We’ve been asking these self-reflection questions of our participants for a long time but weren’t sure every measurement made sense,” explains Manager of Mental Health Services for Sara Riel, David Stewart. “We gave all of our possible metrics to our consultants, Inquiry Minded Consulting, and they helped us to identify what questions truly reflect the progress being made.”

For example, they used to ask participants to reflect on statements such as, “I have enough money.” The consultants pointed out that if Sara Riel can’t actually help clients get more money, it’s not a helpful tool for measuring outcomes.

“In the end, we came up with the four paths to full potential: path to self, path to wellness, path to hope and path to empowerment,” continues Stewart. There are clearly identified statements that show where a participant is on their path, which helps both the participant and their Sara Riel worker to clearly see progress, or areas where support is still needed.

“If we’re working towards the goal of being able to talk to a family member but we see that a participant’s wellness scores are going down, we might slow down the reunification,” explains Stewart. “Or we might suggest to not push their empowerment goal yet if they haven’t achieved their wellness goals. Let’s get them feeling strong before they move forward.”

Nine months into this new reporting framework, there have been some positive indicators. “It’s amazing to me that at the six-month mark, people are starting to feel in control of their lives. I wouldn’t have expected that. And at nine months, they’re talking about advocating for themselves. I can’t wait to see what comes out at the 12-month mark,” admits Stewart.

Stewart says the creation of the new outcome measurement tool has brought about some really interesting discussion within Sara Riel, as well. “We sat down with all of our staff and asked them what exactly they were doing to help someone raise their sense of self,” he continues. “What are the tools? What worksheets are you using? It’s all well and good to say we help people, but we’re now creating a workbook that clearly lays out how we build our sense of self.”

The report will also help support future funding or projects. “We wanted people to understand what we’re doing and the fact that we can now measure it gives us a real boost,” concludes Stewart. “We can take this model to the public or to our funders and show them: we have proof of the impact we’re making.”

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