Like our friend and colleague Jenny Francis before her, Senior Researcher Ruth Hart has eventually moved on to continue her career, in Ruth's case with the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER).

Ruth was with Third Sector First for five and a half years and it is not the same without her. To compensate for the relative relaxation of her new working environment Ruth has taken up marathon running!


'It's all in the mix' – Combining methods effectively in health services research' was the title of a December 2007 conference organised by Qualitative Inquiry Cymru and Mid and West Wales AWARD.

Michael Nugent, Ruth Hart, Jenny Francis and Chris Winard had an abstract selected through peer review; their poster presentation on policy compliance and impact measurement in Cymorth can be viewed here.


It's only a few lines, but….

…from a recent Estyn review of Newport 's youth support services, some observations about the Cymorth review report by Third Sector First:

“…in the main, these reports have not focused enough on the young people's experience, nor on the outcomes for young people. An exception is the review of compliance and effectiveness of Cymorth funded projects…This is a very useful document.”

Estyn (2006) A Report on the Quality of Youth Support Services in Newport. Cardiff: Estyn (© Crown Copyright 2006) p22.


Many of our recent research assignments have included a requirement to consult service users, others have necessitated consultation with partnership groups that combine service users and providers. One of the problems with consulting groups – and particularly those that include people with widely differing levels of confidence, knowledge and influence - is that the resulting record might be a poor reflection of people’s true opinions if anyone felt unable to comment.

So how to make sure that everyone has a voice? Over the course of several studies we have been experimenting with the use of decision support technology. A number of our commissioners have already seen the benefits of this innovative approach to consultation and decision-making. Decision support technology provides for participants to give anonymous and immediate answers to questions posed in consultations, group discussions and meetings. It is a bit like the keypads used in the ‘Ask the audience’ round of ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’: participants in group discussions can make a judgement or provide an opinion, using a wireless handset linked to a laptop PC and data projector. Not only does the equipment allow for instant feedback of data, participants have also consistently reported that their answers had been more ‘honest’ through using this method than would have been the case in a conventional focus group, and that they had felt able to comment in a way that would have been impossible in an open discussion.

e have recently used decision support technology with mixed professional groups, multi-agency partnerships, service-using parents and carers and as an aid to training, target setting and strategy development. Feedback from participants – also provided anonymously – has confirmed our hope that decision support technology can give a voice to groups or individuals normally reticent to express their opinion, for whatever reason, in more conventional research and consultation settings.

This is a valuable, user-friendly and reliable tool for research, consultation and training. If you would like to learn more about our use of decision support technology and to discuss ways in which it could contribute to your work please contact us.


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