Making a plan is one thing; checking progress against it is another. Assessing if you have made a difference can be even harder.
An evaluation process should be part of the action plan from the start. Without evaluation, we don’t know if what we have done works, whether it has helped or harmed people, who it was suitable for, what processes were important and whether it can be used in other communities.
Prevention activities should include ways to collect feedback and document the activity’s successes and challenges.
Making time to reflect and review progress using the information collected can help you work out what changes or refinements to the plan are needed.
If you evaluate your prevention efforts, you’re adding to your knowledge and understanding of what works and what doesn’t work.
Also, suicide prevention activities that can demonstrate effectiveness are more likely to obtain continuing community, practical and financial support.
Make sure you include an evaluation framework in the plan from the start.
You’ll find these two documents useful:
- Evaluation: A guide for good practice (2001) – provides useful background and step-by-step information on how to conduct an evaluation
- A manual to guide the development of local evaluation plans (2003) – provides the information to put into evaluation plans. Both documents are available at the Living is for everyone website.
- Has information been collected and used to make improvements?
- Have decisions on changes and refinements been made in consultation with the community?
Information you should keep
- Records of meetings (including planning forums) for your Suicide Prevention Action Group
- Any feedback you receive from group members and interested people that will help you improve what you are doing.