Using evaluation to inform the development of Foundry’s Virtual Care service model

COVID-19’s impact on the well-being of young people, and the challenges of delivering mental health services in this context, highlighted an urgent need to prioritize virtual health services to youth across BC. Although Foundry’s Virtual Care (VC) team was already planning to launch services in late 2020 (via custom app), COVID-19 triggered an early launch. Made possible in part through Frayme’s Virtual Innovations in Care Grant, the evaluation explored considerations resulting from interim service delivery, including how to best assess ongoing changes to delivery models when working in fast-paced, iterative environments; and how to ensure youth and family experience informs both the implementation and evaluation of services. This presentation will explore how an existing evaluation framework was adapted to assess the implementation of interim VC services, measure the impact and expansion of this program, and incorporate perspectives of youth and family in implementing and evaluating these new online services.

Presenters and slide deck

Alayna Ewert, Evaluation Lead, Foundry

Alayna is the Evaluation Lead at Foundry Central Office. In her role at Foundry, Alayna provides strategic leadership and evaluation expertise to guide the organization's performance measurement framework. She also steers the evaluation strategy across Foundry's research projects. Alayna completed her Bachelor of Science at St Francis Xavier University and her Master of Public Health at SFU and has over seven years of experience working with health authorities, non-profit organizations and academic institutions including the Fraser Health Authority, the Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction (SFU) and the Human Early Learning Partnership (UBC). Her work has focused on addressing systemic, health and well-being challenges across vulnerable populations and understanding the impact of health service interventions. She is passionate about leveraging data to improve health care systems and interested in working alongside young people, their families and communities to continue transforming mental health and substance use services.

Susie Wilson, Research and Evaluation Associate, Foundry

Susie is a Research and Evaluation Associate at Foundry BC. Her background is in critical information literacy, and data literacy and stewardship. In her role at Foundry her areas of focus include data management and quality, creating operational processes, and knowledge translation and exchange.

Alicia Raimundo, Business Analyst, Virtual Care, Foundry

Alicia Raimundo is a Business Analyst at Foundry Virtual. They have worked with Foundry for 2 years to build and launch our virtual clinic and custom virtual clinic software. Alicia comes to B.C with ten years of experience building online and low barrier programming at Stella’s Place, ACCESS Open Minds, Ontario Youth Wellness Helps, Mental Health School Assist and Frayme. Alicia has been recognized as a thought leader for their work, with over 600 speeches world wild including the United Nations World Youth Day, Tedx, and Canada’s Senate and Federal Government. They have also been quoted in Vanity Fair, Buzzfeed, Teen Vogue, the Toronto Star, Macleans, The Globe and Mail, National post, The Times India and newspapers all over the world (including Argentina, Brazil, Japan, France and Ireland).


Key Learnings

  • Don't underestimate the impact a change in service delivery can have on data collection!
  • Flexibility is key when launching and evaluating a new service delivery model

Thoughts from those with Lived/Living Expertise

What are some of the highlights?

  • Two service providers (Foundry and Woods Homes) have quickly shifted their focus to virtual care in light of the pandemic.
  • Both service providers experienced challenges when they first transitioned into virtual services. To address these challenges, both service providers have helped users access the new online services. Foundry has moved from a call-in to to online registration in order to help improve access. Wood Homes has added Webex virtual appointments - recreating their physical rooms on the web-platform in addition to providing regular call-in supports.

How can this information be used?

  • Becoming familiar with new services takes time, but service providers can help by using a graduated implementation process where they ensure the services meet the needs of the broader community. Taking a graduated approach also allows youth and family to connect to services in ways that work for them.
  • It’s important to understand the gaps that were created by the rapid shift to virtual care. Examining the gaps will help to refine assumptions throughout the implementation process.

What are the implications?

  • Youth engagement is critical in evaluation from conceptualization to reviewing the data.
  • Virtual care does not always produce the same results as in person services, which means the need to re-evaluate the outcomes throughout the process to ensure the services meet the community’s needs.
  • The voices of the youth and family are critical to the success of the shift to virtual services.

What would you like to know more about?

  • How has messaging and communication shifted in order to ensure that the youth, family, and community are aware of new offerings and how to reach those who needed to know and were not aware?
  • Qualitative or narrative data showing the perceived impact of care and how those who accessed the services virtually perceived the services they received.

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