Reasons to Assess Your Program
There are multiple reasons to assess your peer support program. It can help to answer questions such as:
- Is the program making progress in meeting its goals?
- Are the participants satisfied with the program? What do they like the most? What do they like the least?
- What impact is the program having on the people being served? What are its key benefits?
- What parts of the program are not working well? Can they be fixed by adjusting the program?
- Are the people with various supporting roles in the program satisfied with the program? What do they feel is most effective? What do they feel is least effective? Is there anything they need to be more effective in their role?
- Is this program cost effective? Is this program saving money for the organization?
Answers to these questions can help you:
- ‘Make the case’ for continuing the program.
- Report useful information to key stakeholders (such as a non-profit organization that has funded the program; key people who helped with the program start-up).
- Include specific information about the impact of your program in communications and marketing materials. This can encourage more people to participate and may bring in more funding.
There is no standard assessment approach or evaluation used by peer support programs. Evaluation plans vary among programs and are often limited by few resources and lack of personnel with the skills to conduct a formal evaluation. What to evaluate will depend on the services offered and the program.
At a minimum, you need to have a process for participants and peer supporters to share input, complaints and suggestions. Such feedback may help you to improve the program, decide what needs to be done next and plan for the future.
Peer support programs often use simple feedback forms, such surveys conducted after a meeting or when participation in a program ends, to collect information about satisfaction and experiences with program services.
Below are commonly assessed areas:
- Peer Supporter Orientation, Training, and Follow Up Support Activities
- Quality of Peer Support Services
- Experiences of Peer Supporters in the Program
- Outcomes of the Overall Program
Updated: March 2018