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Measuring your outcomes

An outcomes tool provides a practical way of measuring and comparing outcomes achieved by individual clients while receiving support services. They are becoming an ever more prominent feature of service provision in the supported housing sector and other areas.

Central government departments, inspection bodies, commissioners and service providers themselves are increasingly recognising their value both in promoting and evidencing client change. 

Within this section of Homeless Outcomes, you will find:
What is an outcomes tool?
Outcomes tools make it possible to assess the extent to which a service user has changed during the time they have been receiving a service.

It is, of course, possible to assess or describe change without an outcomes tool, but outcomes tools do it in a consistent and standardised way.  This makes it possible to draw together information on a number of clients and give an overview of the change being achieved for a whole project or group of projects.

In order to achieve this the tool usually consists of a number of questions about the client’s feelings, attitudes, behaviour, skills and abilities, living situation and relationships, or any combination of these.  The questions focus on the areas the service intends to help the client change – in other words the intended service outcomes.  The questions can take a number of different forms which are described later.

The tool is used with the client at least twice, preferably close to the beginning of their time with the service and again later once it is reasonable to expect that some changes have taken place.  The difference between the first and second points gives the outcomes for the client at that point in time.  The tool can be used more than twice, in which case it provides a picture of the client’s journey towards the intended outcomes.

Outcomes tools can be used with all clients as an integral part of the key-work process, or they can be used with a sample of clients, or for a limited period of time to provide a snapshot of the changes taking place.

Why use an outcomes tool?
Using outcomes tools can provide a range of benefits:

Within key-work
  • It clarifies and makes explicit for the service user and key-worker what the intended outcomes of the service are and provides a focus on these during the key-work session
  • It can provide the service user and key-worker with an overview of the client’s situation and, when the tool is used again, a clear sense of where they have or have not made progress
  • It offers managers a quick way of taking an overview of a worker’s case load, looking at what kind of clients they have and what kind of progress is being made.
Within the project or agency
  • It enables managers to take an overview of the achievements of a project or group of projects – what is being achieved, what is not being achieved and for whom.  This can provide a basis for service development and improvement.
  • It can be used to demonstrate to funders and other stakeholders what outcomes are being achieved.  It can also be used to evidence starting need and highlight particular issues, for example the need for specialist services.
Across the sector

  • It offers the possibility of drawing together learning about what kinds of services work for what kinds of clients as a basis for moving towards an evidence-based approach to the delivery of services
Day Centres
Day Centres are different from other services, however it is still essential that they measure outcomes and capture the important work that they do. Our outcomes resource for day centres will help you to decide on an appropriate tool. Download the resource here.
Author: Triangle Consulting for the London Housing Foundation
Date: 4th December 2007

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