Behaviour Change Insiders Podcast: Episode 3

More details are available at the Wales Audit Office, Good Practice Exchange Podcast Page

In Episode Three:

Rachel Lilley from Aberystwyth University talking about changing how people think about energy use at home with Ymlaen Ceredigion. (1.43 – 9.20 minutes)

Matt Stowe from Cartrefi Conwy explaining the environmental improvements at Parc Peulwys Housing Estate and how they changed behaviours and help gain a Keep Wales Tidy Green Flag award. (10.30 – 25.30 minutes) 

Links to resources mentioned in the Podcast:

National Energy Action Cymru details of working with Ymlaen Ceredigion in partnership with Ceredigion County Council and Aberystwyth University including a link to a report from Rachel Lilley.

Parc Peuwlys Management Plan 2015-2020, produced by Cartrefi Conwy.  Report from BBC Wales on Parc Peulwys acheving the Keep Wales Tidy Green Flag award.

Procurement: The spotlight’s on Wales

Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, has gone on record on many occasions about the vital role sustainable procurement has in underpinning the well-being goals. Sophie blogs ahead of the Good Practice Exchange’s forthcoming Sustainable Procurement webinar

It is estimated that over the next decade, Welsh public services will spend over £60bn in procuring a range of goods, services and works. If this money was being spent to buy things and improve the economic, social, environmental and cultural well-being of people and communities in Wales – imagine what would that mean? Wales has a great opportunity now to think about how and where to spend that money in the interests of future generations.

Up until now, procurement is something that has been done in a certain way, often seen as a blocker rather than an enabler, a transactional rather than a transformational process. Tension remains between striving for the lowest cost rather than achieving wider benefits, with a perception that sustainable procurement can cost more at least in the short-term, even if it offers long-term savings.

As a world-leading, game-changing piece of legislation, the Well-being of Future Generations Act has the power to change the way we do things in Wales today, for the future. This is not just a nice thing to do, but a statutory obligation to ensure we are acting in the best interests of our future generations by improving the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales. Crucially, all four aspects of well-being are seen as important as each other, and there are seven well-being goals that help public bodies maximise their contribution to the Act. Procurement has a vital part to play here.

So the spotlight is truly on Wales.

I believe there is a need for a much simpler, holistic and co-ordinated approach to what procurement can achieve, through a framework which offers clarity, not further confusion, and the Act provides this.

Stronger leadership is needed, from within every area of our public sector, and commitment in stepping up these efforts. Procurement is so often seen as one area, in its own silo, but if we are to do this properly our approach to procurement must consider the whole system, not just one area in isolation. Now is an opportunity to ensure procurement is fit for the future.

Public bodies now have a duty to think about the long-term; over 10 years ago the UK Sustainable Procurement Task Force showed that sustainable procurement, when seen as an organisational priority which questions the need to spend, cuts out waste, seeks innovative solutions and is delivered by well trained professionals will reduce rather than add to public spending in both the short and the long run.

We know saving costs in a time of continued austerity is still important. Austerity makes it even more important to seek different solutions, and reduce demand that achieve longer term benefits not just short term cost savings.

Solutions like:

  • procuring good quality local food, which can have a positive impact on health and support local businesses as well as reducing carbon footprint;
  • requiring the reuse and recycling of furniture or construction material; or
  • thinking of long term cost and carbon savings by procuring electric fleet or replacing lighting with LED bulbs.

In Preston public bodies have increased their spend with local organisations by 13.2% or £74.8 million (between 2012/13 and 2016/17) showing that you can support local economic development even during times of austerity. We have the infrastructure in Wales via our Public Services Boards to do the same.

We also have a duty to consider the unfair amount of debt and an empty bank of world resources that we are placing on future generations – at over 7 billion people we are depleting the Earth’s resources at rates that are not sustainable. At the heart of the Act is the idea of intergenerational equality – that future generations should not pay the price of our decisions today.

There are clearly pockets of good practice in Wales – the 21st century schools programme which is building the kind of schools Wales needs for the future, with low-carbon, resilient buildings and environment, as supporting the development of skills for the future. When they procured furniture for their new offices, Public Health Wales saved 41 tonnes of waste from landfill, and in total the project saved around 134 tonnes of CO2, enough to fill 804 double decker buses.

Caerphilly County Borough Council have trained their tenants as part of the process of learning about what makes a good quality home through their Quality Homes Standard showing that involving suppliers and end-users in the procurement process can be done. Swansea Community Energy Scheme increased employment of local people by developing a new model for procuring community benefits through renewable energy for council buildings, and encouraged the low-carbon vision of prosperity we are striving for. And by listening to the voices and views of their conscientious pupils, Cathays High School went on to buy Fairtrade school uniforms – a more ethical option that supports the well-being of our global communities.

So, why not join the Wales Audit Office’s, Good Practice Team’s Sustainable Procurement webinar on Wednesday 18 April, between 12-1.30pm. This will be an opportunity to hear from an expert panel and get involved by posing live questions to the panel. Helping to encourage a mind-set shift so public services can start to work differently to ensure that they make the most of the £60bn spent in Wales and help deliver the Wales we want.

You can register here.

Behaviour Change Insiders Podcast: Episode 1

More details about the podcasts are available on our Behaviour Change Insiders Podcast Page on the Good Practice Exchange Blog.

square_bciIn episode one:

Rupert Moon – on working with rugby players at Rugby Gogledd Cymru to develop behaviours that went beyond the playing field (1.30 – 15.20 minutes)

Professor Judy Hutchings – on the KiVa anti bullying programme in schools. Learning from Finland on how taking a whole school approach can change behaviours and reduce bullying (15.25 – 27.10 minutes)

Links to resources mentioned:

Wales Audit Office, Good Practice Exchange Podcast Page.

Bangor University KiVa Programme

Rupert Moon on sport and improving well being

Behaviour Change Insiders Podcast: Episode 2

 More details at the Wales Audit Office, Good Practice Exchange Podcast Page.

In Episode Two:

Chris Subbe  explaining the Wee Wheel introduced to reduce acute kidney injury for hospital patients (1.45 – 7.30 minutes).

Olwen Williams on the ‘Test no Talk’ approach to improve sexual health screening (8.00 – 21.30 minutes).

Links to resources mentioned in the podcast:

Chris Subbe blog, An audible patient voice and 1000 Lives Wee Wheel page

1000 Lives Compendium of Outpatient Improvement, report by Olwen Williams on : Self triage innovation in sexual health services – Test no Talk.

The role of scrutiny in relation to Future Generations – Environment

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We recently held a Good Practice Seminar on ‘The role of scrutiny in relation to Future Generations’ at Cardiff and Llanrwst. This was very different seminar to our usual Good Practice events. As the Well-being of Future Generations Act is very much in its infancy, case studies reflecting the five ways of working are yet to emerge. So that meant we had to design a seminar to fit the need. We opted for a ‘learning through doing’ approach, which meant that the delegates worked jolly hard on the day.

We were also aware that how we were going to share the messages from the day, needed to be shared in a manageable way, so we are trialling sharing these through blogging. This is the first of a series of three blogs based on the characteristics of good scrutiny – Environment, Practice and Impact.

We’ve recognised, as a good practice team, that people like information in different ways. We’ve included the raw outputs from the day if you would like more detailed information.

On the day we asked delegates to feedback on the one thing that they were going to do differently as a result of the three workshops they attended. In this first blog we wanted to share with you some of the points that delegates shared after Workshop 1 – Environment. If you didn’t attend the event this blog will give you an insight into points to consider and reflect on if you are currently using these factors.

We thought it may be helpful if we put the outputs from the day into the following headings.

Public Engagement

I’ve used the words ‘Public Engagement’ to summarise one area of the statements delegates shared at the end of workshop 1 on the theme of Environment. It is clear to me that delegates understand the need to engage, listen, and consult more with their public to ensure that ‘real people’ have a chance to input their views. A two-way communication is key when making decisions, it was very pleasing to hear that this has been recognised and many delegates identified that making it more accessible and inclusive for questions to be asked and voices to be heard.

One delegate stated ‘‘People before process’ – consider emotional as well as financial support’.

Involvement

This is another area that was mentioned a number of times in the feedback. I love that delegates are really seeing the importance of improving the way that they involve the local people and communities in shaping their futures – whether that be direct or early involvement, or involving partners like the 3rd sector as well as other public sector bodies.

‘Less focus on budget and more on decision making that matters’ – one delegate has written down.

Feedback

A few delegates felt that feedback was important. Giving more feedback on the reasons behind the decision, and being clear on the purpose of what is trying to be achieved.

Support

This feedback says to me that quite a few delegates feel that they need support to help them improve the understanding and work of scrutiny in relation to the well-being of future generations. Some mentioned that working in partnership between organisations to address the seven well-being goals of the WFG Act would be a big help to them. It would help them to ‘forward plan’ and to not think about annual budgets.

How can you improve the understanding of using the 5 ways of working in your organisation? Should they be used to shape and inform the decision making process at the earliest stage? These were a few questions that came out of this section of feedback.

One delegate wrote – ‘Scrutiny should not be linked to annual budgets. You can’t make progress for future generations when you are working in 12 month restrictive stretches.’

Culture

Lastly, a few points were made about needing a change in culture at all levels in order to think more long-term about effective scrutiny. Scrutiny should not just be about outcomes and budgets it should be about forward thinking to make a lasting, positive change. I am very happy to see that delegates are aware that this needs addressing and hopefully our seminar helped to reinforce the message of how important their role is shaping the future of our future generations.

‘Scrutineers to be aware of the importance of their role and the power scrutiny has to influence.’

Whilst preparing and shaping this seminar, we recognised that this is a step change for public services. Our colleague Tim Buckle wrote a great blog ahead of the seminar ‘Scrutiny for the well-being of future generations – more questions than answers?’ We encourage you to have a read when you have a few spare minutes.

Stay Well @ Home

by Emma Ralph from Stay Well @ Home

We are pleased to announce that the Stay Well@ Home Team will be presenting at this year’s ‘I’m a patient, get me out of here’ event. We thought it would be useful to give you a flavour of our exciting new service model before the event. But to truly hear about the fabulous work that the team are undertaking, please join us at one of the workshops that we will be hosting in both South and North Wales.

SW@H is a new and innovative way of working, where partners across Cwm Taf University Health Board, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil Country Borough Councils have joined forces to create a truly integrated way of working together to support those being discharged from hospital.

How do we do this? We are an integrated, multidisciplinary hospital based team made up of Assistant Therapy Practitioners, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists and Social Workers, whose primary focus is to either prevent individuals being admitted to hospital unnecessarily by providing early assessments in our A&E departments, but we also work to reduce an individuals overall length of stay by completing timely and robust ‘person focussed’ assessments and through using community based services to support someone in their own home rather than a hospital bed.

What’s new about this? Well, we work across 7 days, 12 hour shifts patterns but more importantly, we have enhanced our community based services across health and social care, such as the RCTCBC Support@Home and CTUHB @Home nursing service who also provide a 4 hour response and work across 7 days in order to provide robust support to individuals upon their discharge home. In a nutshell, we can deliver the following:

  • Through the development of the ‘Trusted Assessor role’ we can set up packages of support within a 4 hour time frame, 7 days per week
  • Rapid community response services to support the hospital based team (both health and social care)
  • Restart or increased packages of care to facilitate discharge to home, 7 days per week
  • We utilise a variety of problem solving options at A & E (including third sector services)
  • Everyone discharged home via us will have a individualised review of their needs within a 14 day period

Come and join us at our workshops where we will be talking through some real life cases and discussing how this model of practice has improved the quality of the services provided. #noplacelikehome #rightcareattherighttimeintherigthplace #personattheheart

Three questions…

If you read our previous blog, you will know that our upcoming seminar, I’m a patient get me out of here, is about hospital discharge planning and the services around that process.  Looking at this from another angle, I started thinking about how I would feel if I was a patient.  How would I want my hospital discharge planned?

 

I’m an *overly* organised and efficient person in work.  I know that if I went in to hospital, I would start trying to meticulously plan my escape as soon as possible (no offence to hospitals of course, just would rather be at home!).  I would want to know what was happening to me, why it was happening and when it was happening.  And I would certainly want to know how soon I could go home and what I need to do to help that happen.  This led me to the three questions below, which I think should help any patient ensure that they can help in their own discharge planning.

What’s going to happen to me while I’m here?

I want to know why I’m in hospital and if it is the best place for me, the type of care I might receive and what I can do to help myself.  What care/treatment do I need to have to get me well and when will those things happen during my stay?  Will other health and care professionals be involved in my care (e.g. social workers, therapists or community workers), and will I meet them while I’m in hospital or after I get home?

I want to start planning for my discharge straight away, not once I’m told I can go home.  That leads us to the next question…

When am I going home?

I want to know as soon as arrive (within 24-48 hours) when I’m likely to get home.  I have a job, a four year old and a life to get back to and I have to make plans (again with the planning) for what is happening at home whilst I’m in hospital.  I understand that this date may change as my treatment progresses, but I want this reviewed regularly and to be kept updated.

What do I need to do to get home?

This question is much more than just being ‘medically fit’ to leave hospital, I can be medically fit without being discharge ready.  This means that staff should ask me how I currently manage at home and about the types of support, formal or informal, that I already receive.  But there are other questions that need answering as well.  For me these questions would involve what I can do to help myself, but also whether everything I am going to need is prepared for my move back home and my recovery.  I’m lucky, my answers would be fairly straightforward – I know where I’m going is safe and that there are people at home to care for me.  For others, this might be much more complex.  I’m thinking about things like:

  • Is my home suitable for me to live in at the moment? Is it warm, dry, safe and/or accessible?
  • Do I have clothes to wear home?
  • Who is going to take me home?
  • Do I have food at home?
  • Does anyone know I’m going home (family/other services/support/carers)?
  • Will you tell my GP that I was hospitalised and why?
  • Will you give me information about what to do if I become unwell after I get home?
  • Should I expect a home visit or will I receive an appointment for further support or follow up?
  • Will my medication be ready for when I leave?
  • Are there any other factors which may affect my discharge?

If you find yourself in hospital as a patient, or if you’re caring for someone and they end up in hospital (knock on wood), keep these questions in mind.  This dialogue between patients and staff can reduce delays by highlighting potential issues early during your hospital stay.  This will help to ensure that you, or your loved ones, are discharged in a safe and timely way.

Behaviour Change Insiders Mewnwelediad Newid Ymddygiad

BCI_final

This is the first of six podcasts we are piloting on the subject of behaviour change in public services.

The podcasts have been created from a series of three behaviour change festivals that we helped deliver at Bangor, Swansea and Aberystwyth Universities during 2016/17.

Our aim is to use some of what we learnt about behaviour change to share knowledge.

Most of the talking will be from people who have delivered behaviour change, are experts in the field or both.

This is a pilot of a new way of working for us. Please expect things to change as we as we go along, as well as some learning from our mistakes. If you have any feedback on the pilots please let us know in the comments section.

Thanks very much.

In episode one:

Rupert Moon – on working with rugby players at Rugby Gogledd Cymru to develop behaviours that went beyond the playing field.

 

Professor Judy Hutchings – on the KiVa anti bullying programme in schools. Learning from Finland on how taking a whole school approach can change behaviours and reduce bullying.

 

Links to resources mentioned:

Bangor University KiVa Programme: https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=KIVA+Bangor&gws_rd=cr&dcr=0&ei=t8WPWq_XN4GLgAb_8qqYDg

Rupert Moon on improving wellbeing  https://www.wao.gov.uk/events/housing-and-sport-improving-wellbeing-and-providing-better-value-public-money

Mewnwelediad Newid Ymddygiad

Dyma’r cyntaf o chwe phodlediad rydym yn eu treialu ar newid ymddygiad mewn gwasanaethau cyhoeddus.

Mae’r podlediadau wedi’u creu o gyfres o wyliau newid ymddygiad rydym wedi helpu i’w cynnal ym Mhrifysgol Bangor, Prifysgol Abertawe a Phrifysgol Aberystwyth yn ystod 2016/17.

Ein nod yw defnyddio rhywfaint o’r hyn a ddysgwyd am newid ymddygiad er mwyn rhannu gwybodaeth.

Bydd y rhan fwyaf o’r siarad gan y bobl sydd wedi cyflawni newid ymddygiad, yn arbenigwyr yn y maes, neu’r ddau.

Cynllun peilot yw hwn, nid ein ffordd arferol o weithio. Disgwyliwch i rai pethau newid ar y ffordd a byddwn hefyd yn dysgu o’n camgymeriadau. Os oes gennych unrhyw adborth ar y cynlluniau peilot, rhowch wybod i ni yn yr adran sylwadau.

Diolch yn fawr iawn.

Ym mhennod un:

Rupert Moon – yn trafod gweithio gyda chwaraewyr rygbi yn Rygbi Gogledd Cymru i ddatblygu ymddygiadau a aeth y tu hwnt i’r cae chwarae.

Yr Athro Judy Hutchings – yn trafod rhaglen gwrth-fwlio KiVa mewn ysgolion. Dysgu o’r Ffindir ar sut y gall dull gweithredu ysgol gyfan newid ymddygiadau a lleihau achosion o fwlio.

Dolenni i’r adnoddau y soniwyd amdanynt:

Rupert Moon, Gwella lles.  https://www.wao.gov.uk/cy/digwyddiadau/tai-chwaraeon-gwella-lles-darparu-gwell-gwerth-am-arian-cyhoeddus

Prifysgol Bangor KiVa Rhaglen: https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=KIVA+Bangor&gws_rd=cr&dcr=0&ei=t8WPWq_XN4GLgAb_8qqYDg

I’m a patient, get me out of here

Our seminars on hospital discharge planning are coming up on March 14th and 22nd.  The Good Practice Exchange has worked together on this one with the Health team at the Wales Audit Office.  Sara sat down with Anne to talk about why this seminar is happening now.

If you only had 1,000 days left to live,

how many of them would you choose to spend in hospital? (#last1000days)

Discharge planning is an ongoing process for identifying the services and support a person may need when leaving hospital (or moving between hospitals).  The Wales Audit Office has recently completed reviews of the discharge planning arrangements across all the health boards.  The reviews showed that whilst health boards have the frameworks in place to support discharge planning, there were a number of reasons that were preventing discharge from being as effective as it could be.

The majority of hospital discharges are relatively straightforward, but for approximately 20% of patients, discharge is much more complex for a variety of different reasons.  The number of delayed transfers of care has been steadily increasing during 2017 and the number of patients delayed 13 weeks or more is rising.  These delays in discharge lead to poorer outcomes for people through the loss of independence and mobility.

For every 10 days of bed-rest in hospital, the equivalent of 10 years of muscle ageing occurs in people over 80-years old, and reconditioning takes twice as long as this de-conditioning. One week of bedrest equates to 10% loss in strength, and for an older person who is at threshold strength for climbing the stairs at home, getting out of bed or even standing up from the toilet, a 10% loss of strength may make the difference between dependence and independence. [Professor Brian Dolan, more info can be found at this website.]

One of the common themes coming out of the reviews was that there was opportunity to have greater integrated working throughout the discharge process, including stronger links to services in the community, to make sure the patients are receiving the right care, in the right place, at the right time.

We felt that this theme, in line with the Well-being for Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, was tackling a key part of discharge planning – putting the patient at the centre.  Patients are not concerned with who is providing which service, they just want to be assisted to achieve the best possible individual outcomes.

In essence, patient time as the key metric of performance and quality is best measured from the perspective of the person and is a journey not an event. [#last1000 days]

So at this seminar, you will find projects that are working across the sectors, navigating links to services in the community, showcasing truly integrated partnerships and joint working throughout the discharge planning processes and, most importantly, keeping the individual at the centre of the service.  They are finding solutions to the variety of reasons which cause the delays in complex discharges, whether they are related to transfers of care, safety, homelessness, mental health, housing, assessments, or all of the above.

These projects are looking to provide you with food for thought, ideas you may be able to adapt to your own environment, or to spark new ideas.  See what you can take back to your organisation or working environment which will help your patients to have better outcomes.

 

We would like to note that our background research also highlighted all the work that is going on to prevent admissions in the first place.  In fact, there were so many that we decided that this area deserved a seminar all to itself, so that one will be coming up in February 2019.

Painting by Numbers: how to understand and use data effectively

Focusing on our upcoming event on scrutiny and governance, we understand that the scrutiny process involves dealing with a lot of data. Our chat with Suzanne Draper from Data Unit Wales highlighted a key question – how can we get data to work for you? In this blog Suzanne gives some tips on how to understand and use data effectively.

“Lies, damned lies and statistics”

Benjamin Disraeli’s famous quote suggests that all statistics and data are questionable. And, indeed, they are – you simply need to make sure you are asking the right questions.

Here are our top 10 questions to help you better understand and use data:

Is the data relevant?

Is the data reliable?

Is the definition clear?

Are the units clear?

How current is the data?

How robust is the data?

Are the comparisons valid?

Are the graphics clear?

Do you have the complete picture?

Are there any other factors that need to be taken into consideration?

 Is the data relevant?

 Data is everywhere. We are bombarded daily with facts and figures. It can be overwhelming, confusing even. How do you know what is important?

The trick is to focus on what you are trying to achieve and ask yourself: does this data help me understand more about the topic? Will I be able to make better, more informed decisions as a result?

If not, move on.

Is the data reliable?

In the same way, it can be difficult to know who or what to believe – will that face cream really reduce my wrinkles in just 7 days?

When using data, you need to be able to trust it. To do this, you need to understand where the data comes from and how it was produced.

There are many credible organisations who produce and publish quality data, including Data Unit Wales! These organisations will all have robust methods of collecting, verifying and publishing data to make sure it is as accurate and reliable as possible.

Is the definition clear?

Definitions are often simplified to make data more accessible. However, this can be misleading. Take, for example, a headline which appeared in a British newspaper in 2013:

“1,200 killed by mental patients”

However, if you look more closely at the underlying data you’d see that around half of those that committed the reported homicides had symptoms of mental illness at the time of the homicide, but were not, in fact, ‘mental patients’. What’s more, the study noted that it is unclear whether these symptoms led to the homicides.

While misrepresentation of the facts is usually unintentional, it can have a big impact on how you perceive the data and what you do with it.

Are the units clear?

Data is presented in a variety of formats, each with its own purpose.

Numbers, or counts, help you to understand the quantity or amount of something e.g. 151,000 tonnes of waste was sent to landfill in 2016-17.

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t know whether this is a lot or not. Percentages and rates are, therefore, used to make the data more meaningful and accessible:

e.g. 10% of waste was sent to landfill in 2016-17
e.g. 0.05 tonnes of waste per person was sent to landfill in 2016-17

When using percentages it is important to understand the underlying data. For instance, if two local planning authorities both decided 50% of their planning applications in 8 weeks you’d say that they were performing at the same level. However, if you knew that Authority A had decided 100 applications (50 of which were in 8 weeks) and Authority B just four applications (two in 8 weeks) would you still say they were performing at the same level?

How current is the data?

It is important to be clear about what time period the data relates to – is it this month, last month, this year, last year?

Most good quality data takes some time to produce. Usually, annual data will take between 6 and 12 months to be published, but some larger datasets may take longer.

Data shouldn’t be disregarded simply because it is ‘old’ – there are many valid reasons why we might use such data. For instance, it may be collected infrequently (such as Census data) or it may simply be the best estimate available.

How robust is the data?

Most data has a degree of unknown error – it is almost impossible to guarantee that a piece of data is 100% accurate. However, some data is likely to be more robust than others due to the way in which it was collected. Counts and estimates are likely to be very robust. Survey data may be less so due to sample sizes and the subjectivity of the data.

Are the comparisons valid?

Comparisons are very useful in helping put data into perspective, but only if the data is comparable. This may seem obvious, but it is very easy to make a mistake. There are two key things to consider when comparing data:

Has the data been produced to the same definition? For instance, have you included and excluded the same things, does it cover the same period, etc.

Has the data been standardised to take account of other factors that might influence differences in the data? For instance, if you were comparing staff age profiles across organisations you would expect a bigger organisation to have more staff in each age bracket. Comparing whole numbers wouldn’t therefore tell you anything you didn’t already know. If, however, you compared the percentage of staff within each age bracket (thus removing the impact of the size of the organisation) you’d quickly see how your age profiles compared.

So, if you answer ‘no’ to either of these questions, chances are the comparisons aren’t valid.

Are the graphics clear?

In addition to the above considerations, when looking at data in charts or graphs there are a couple more things you should look out for:

  • Always check the axis – if the data doesn’t start from zero your perspective may be distorted;
  • Beware of 3D charts – they do not give an accurate representation of the data;

A graphic should have one clear message. If you can’t find it quickly don’t waste your time and find another way to look the data.

Do you have the complete picture?

So often, particularly in the media, you are presented with one, lone figure on which to form an opinion.

In no other aspect of our lives would we expect this to happen. For instance, we wouldn’t expect a doctor to make a diagnosis based on our blood pressure reading alone.

And so it follows that the data you are using should provide you with a balanced picture – it should allow you to answer both ‘what?’ and ‘why?’.

Are there any other factors that need to be taken into consideration?

It’s important to make sure you have all the information to help you understand the data. For instance, is the data rounded? Has some of the data been ‘hidden’ in order to protect individuals? Is there any national (or local) legislation that has a direct bearing on the data and its use?

Most organisations publish metadata alongside their data. Metadata is “data about data” and is designed to provide you with all the necessary information about the data that you are looking at, including any ‘special instructions’.

So, to summarise, in order to use data effectively you need to understand what you are looking at. If in doubt, ask!

Come along to our Good Practice Exchange seminar in January on the role of scrutiny in relation to future generations.