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Welcome to HC Link's blog! Our blog will provide you with useful information on healthy community topics, news, and resources, as well as information on HC Link’s events, activities, and resources. Our bloggers include HC Link staff and consultants, as well as our partnering organizations, clients, and experts in the health promotion field.

Please note: opinions in posts are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of HC Link or our funder.

We look forward to engaging in thought-provoking conversation with you!

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Measuring Partnership Effectiveness

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Measuring Partnership Effectiveness: evaluating partnerships

By Andrea Bodkin, HC Link Coordinator

This blog is one of a series profiling some of HC Link’s “oldie but goodie” resources from the past several years. This resource was published under HC Link’s previous name, the Healthy Communities Consortium, by former member organization OPHA.

Evaluate, celebrate and renew is one of 6 activities for successful partnerships, which Gillian Kranias and I presented in a June webinar. According to a survey conducted with participants of that webinar, it’s one of the activities that people find the most challenging. In 2008 I wrote that the world of evaluation can seem mystical, confusing and daunting. I will cheerfully admit that 9 years later, I still often feel like that! That’s why I delved back into a two-part resource that we published in 2011 on partnership evaluation, Measuring Partnership Effectiveness.  Part one provides and overview of partnership evaluation, including the benefits of assessing your partnership and principles to guide your partnership evaluation efforts. Part Two profiles a number of tools that you can use to measure the effectiveness of your partnership.

A simple way to think about evaluation that’s relevant to those of you who work in partnership, is the three levels to partnership evaluation:

  • Level 1: Measuring coalition infrastructure, functioning and processes: how well the partnership is working together. Level 1 evaluation is process evaluation that measures short-term outcomes.
  • Level 2: Measuring partnership programs and interventions: what the partnership is accomplishing together, such as the activities delivered and populations impacted. Level 2 evaluation is outcome evaluation that measures short and intermediate outcomes.
  • Level 3: Measuring community change and community outcomes: changes in health status, community capacity, the sustainability or institutionalization of programs and services. Level 3 evaluation is outcome evaluation that measures long term outcomes.

Conducting a Level 1 evaluation can provide valuable information on how your partnership is functioning, how each partner is contributing to the partnership, and the effectiveness and efficiency of the partnership. This information can be used to help your partnership improve and make adjustments over time, resulting in improved functioning and a greater likelihood of achieving the goals and activities of the partnership. Tools used to assess partnerships typically gather data on things like:

  • Purpose of the partnership: vision, mission, goals
  • Partnership structure and meetings
  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Member diversity and involvement
  • Sense of community/cohesion and identify
  • Task focus and sustainability
  • Use of resources
  • Membership needs and benefits

So what does a Level 1 evaluation look like? Here’s a case study from HC Link’s efforts to assess and improve its partnership functioning:

As a partnership between three provincial organizations, HC Link understands the importance of assessing our partnership functioning as well as how we meet our goals and objectives.  Our Level 1 partnership evaluation focusses on measuring the effectiveness and efficiency of HC Link, how well we are structured/organized, how well we communicate, and the quality of our relationships.

We evaluate annually, using a mixed-method approach, with different approaches each year: surveys, key informant interviews, focus groups, analysis of service statistics and document reviews. One of the more innovative approaches we use is “Evaluation Day!” where HC Link staff are paired up and answer a series of questions in a dialogue. Immediately following, individuals answer an online survey. We found that the paired interviews develop relationships and understanding, and provide a richness that is then reflected in the online results. This would be a great approach for steering committee members! You can read more about “Evaluation Day!” in this blog post.

We use the results of our partnership evaluation to celebrate our accomplishments and highlight areas for improvement. When an area(s) for improvement is identified, we develop a strategy to help us strengthen this quality. Over our 8 years of working in partnership, we have made a number of adjustments based on the results of our evaluation. For example, we make changes to our meeting structure on an annual basis, and have made several rounds of changes to our structure to adapt to our changing environment/contexts. 

 

In addition to the ten tools analyzed in the Part Two resource, here are some additional resources you may find helpful:

The Wilder Collaboration Factors Inventory has an online collaboration assessment tool with research-tested success factors.

Bilodeau, Galarneau, Fournier & Potvin have developed an 18 indicator tool: Outil diagnostique de l’action en partenariat. Currently the tool is available in French only, however Health Nexus is adapting the tool for English audiences.  

Collaborative Leadership in Practice(CLIP) was a project of Health Nexus and the Ontario Public Health Association. The aim of the project was to equip leaders to be able to collaborate with diverse partners and recognize the power structures that exist in our partnerships. On the resources page, you’ll find an excellent tool- with guide- called Equity Analysis Tool of Group Membership.

HC Link’s Participatory Evaluation Toolkit and The Power of Reflection: an introduction to participatory evaluation techniques describe techniques that can be used to help assess and strengthen your parntership.

This 2017 edition of HC Link’s Digest + is on evaluation, and contains many more helpful tools and resources. 

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Resource Profile: Engaging Marginalized Communities: Honouring Voices and Empowering Change

This blog is one of a series profiling some of HC Link’s “oldie but goodie” resources from the past several years.

Several years ago, we partnered with the Social Planning Network of Ontario (SPNO) to profile work they had been doing to engage marginalized communities within local Healthy Communities Partnership activities. engagingmargThe resulting resource, Engaging Marginalized Communities: Honouring Voices and Empowering Changeby Rishia Burke, has become a bit of a touchstone for me and the work I do with populations and communities across Ontario. Published in 2011 in English and in French, the resource summarizes the project, the engagement techniques used, and provides insights into the benefits and challenges of engaging populations who feel marginalized. 

The first lesson that I keep from this resource is the use of the term “marginalized”. Often in health promotion, we have cautions about the words that we use to talk about specific populations and communities. I often refer to the resource Let’s Talk: Populations and the power of language, which explains that the words we use to talk about communities (such as marginalized, at-risk, racialized etc) can have power implications for those who use the words as well as those who are being described. Rishia approached her work in Halton Region with that same lens: she was uncomfortable using the term “marginalized” until she understood that the community responded to this word: they wanted to be called marginalized because that’s how they felt: on the margins. Outside, excluded.

In my HC Link work I talk about building trust relationships a lot. What Rishia reminds me is that with some groups, building trust can take longer. With populations that have little power, feel like they are not heard or respected, and feel isolated, building trust before proceeding in any kind of engagement is critical. Rishia recommends going to where the people you are trying to reach are: in her case, Rishia went to food banks and chatted with those waiting in line. She went to community barbeques and coffee shops. Rishia shared information with those she was developing relationships: she talked about her own childhood, her parenting experiences, and her project. This is in stark opposition to our habit of inviting communities to our spaces, where they may not feel safe, where they may not be able to easily travel to, where they feel or fear they may not be welcomed.

The SPNO project recommends these key steps to engaging marginalized communities:

steps 2 engage marg

I hope you’ll be able to apply the learnings in this resource as I have. And if this topic is of interest to you, come to our November conference Linking for Healthy Communities: With everyone, for everyone where we will reflect, learn and share about equity, diversity and working across difference. 

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Re-framing The Golden Rule

It probably won’t come as a surprise to you that I’m really excited about this year’s HC Link conference. Because a) I’m nearly always excited about something, b) I work at HC Link and so I have a slightly biased opinion and c) the conference is at the BMO Institute, which has a specialty coffee machine whose decaf lattes I dream about on a regular basis. Beyond those reasons though, I’m excited about the conference because of the theme: equity, inclusion, and working across difference.

This is a theme that is exquisitely suited to the times that we are living in. We really want this conference to be a place where people from all walks of life, of all different identities and different experiences can come together to talk, reflect, exchange ideas and think critically about how we can transform our communities into spaces with everyone, for everyone.

KimMatrinTo compound my excitement, we have an amazing keynote speaker to kick off the conference. Kim Katrin Milan is writer, multidisciplinary artist, activist, consultant, and educator. She speaks on panels and keynotes and facilitates radical community dialogues. Her art, activism and writing has been recognized nationally. The foundation of much of Kim’s work is a re-working of The Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do to you. This, Kim says, assumes that everyone wants to be treated in the same way, and that we are the standard for other people’s needs. Rather, Kim advocates that we treat people the way that they want to be treated: which means that we need to engage in a conversation about the wants and needs of others. We need to ask about the gender pronouns that they want us to use; we need to ask what cultural sensitivity looks like to them; we need to ask what safety looks and feels like to them. It’s in the way that we ask and create conversations that we make communities where no one is left behind. This can, of course, seem very daunting. Kim also advises us to start where you are, with what you have, and do what you can.

In her keynote at the HC Link conference, Kim will talk about allyship, bias and its role in upholding inequities, and actions we can take (in our personal and professional lives) to do what we can. Kim’s keynote will be inspirational, practical, and though-provoking. Watch Kim’s video about her keynote. 

I hope you’ll join us at the HC Link Conference, learn and share about equity, inclusion, diversity, and working together across difference. 

Want to register now? Go directly to the registration page here. Our Early Bird pricing of $310 ends next Friday, September 15th!

See you soon!

 

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Safe BBQing techniques to enjoy a healthy Labour Day weekend

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With labour day just around the corner, I wanted to share with you some basic rules for food safety in meal preparation that was shared on on the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care website.

According to Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Dr. Eric Hoskins and Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, reminding Ontarians of proper food preparations is key to avoiding food born illnesses.

In the summertime, food poisoning increases due to more people preparing food on the grill, defrosting raw meats like burgers, and making more salads on flat surfaces. To avoiding cross contamination and food poisoning, follow these simple rules.

Clean you hands often when preparing meals, clean surfaces and utensils with soapy warm water. Bacteria loves getting onto hands and in cutting boards, kitchen ware, cloths, knives, etc.

Keep raw meat separated from ready to eat foods like veggies, fruits, breads, and salads. Keep the separate both when you’re preparing them and as you store them.

Thoroughly cook all your food, especially meats and poultry but also veggies if you’re cooking them on the safe grill.

Keep food and leftovers in the fridge and get groceries into the fridge within 2 hours of purchasing them - especially for meat, poultry and dairy products.

To ensure you’re following the guidelines above, you can take some extra precautions such as:

Using a food thermometer to test the temperature of your food as it cooks.

Never keeping food at room temperature for more than 2 hours

Don’t defrost your meat on countertops, rather keep it in a container and let it defrost slowly in the refrigerator or under cold water in the sink.

Keep packaging of your meat firm and tight, even double bag it to be sure no juice will leak onto your ready to eat foods.

Follow cooking instructions accordingly to make sure you’re preparing your food correctly and safely.

Following these tips can help you avoid the unfortunately symptoms of food poisoning that can range from mild to severe. If you do become ill and suspect food poisoning, consult a physician or go to your nearest hospital for urgent care if symptoms appear severe. By following these rules above, however, you should significantly decrease your chances of becoming ill due to food poisoning.

Enjoy your Labour Day weekend !

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Activating Your Conference

 

We, at Ophea’s Physical Activity Resource Centre (PARC), are excited to be the physical activity partner for the 2017 HC Link Conference,  Linking for Healthy Communities: With Everyone, For Everyone.

As we draw nearer to the conference, we got to thinking about some ways that have helped us be more active at past conferences and events. Here are 5 tips to get active throughout the conference:

1. Take advantage of active breaks and opportunities throughout the event.

Ophea, through PARC will be offering energizers and active movement options through this exciting two-day conference. Come prepared to move! 

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2. Use the standing tables or open space to move and/or stand during the conference sessions.

HC Link will provide standing tables in the main conference space and these can be used to change your movement patterns!

3. Ensure you include movement between sessions.

Whether this is taking the long way around the conference setting, or changing the movement pattern (ex. skipping, rolling, etc.) to get from lunch to the keynote, making the most of the transition times and breaks can mean more physical activity!

4. Participate in the active opportunities before and after the conference.

Moving before and after the conference can also ensure a well rounded day, provide you an opportunity to meet and network with others and keep you refreshed for the sessions. If you will be staying over, this could include accessing the Wellness Center which includes a Fitness room, accessible 24 hours a day with your guest room key, or the pool area, which is open Monday – Friday 6:00 am – 10:00 pm

5. Make the most of the lunch break.

The BMO Institute for Learning has green space available if you would like to go for a walk or roll, if the weather is not ideal, you could also move around the building to keep the blood flowing.

You can also check out the PARC Blog, Energizer: Conference Setting for some additional ideas if you are planning your own conference or event!  If you have suggestions to share, feel free to Tweet us @parcontario. We would love to hear from you!

We look forward to moving with you at the 2017 HC Link Conference, Linking for Healthy Communities: With Everyone, For Everyone!

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