Evaluation Services

Stay on track with confidence

Evaluation Services

Get the best value for money when investing in new services. Let us help you make informed, evidence-based decisions, and reduce the risks of change and innovation in your organisation.

Our range of evaluation and assurance services, available across the public sector and to the private and third sectors, draws on years of expertise that can help your senior decision-makers plan and spend with confidence.

We can guide you into making the right decisions, so that your new policies, strategies and initiatives get on a firm footing, from the outset.

Smarter spending in uncertain times

You might think your last spending initiative was a success – but can you prove it? We can.
In these times of public sector cuts, certainty that your investment is going to make real, tangible difference to people’s lives is vital.

Our expertise is already helping organisations as diverse as the Department for Work and Pensions, Suffolk County Council, and Colchester Community Voluntary Services understand the impact of their interventions, analyse their spend, and prioritise their resources in the future.

Services we offer

There are many ways to spend money on making improvements to products and services – the question is how get the best results, and how to ensure those results are lasting.

The University of Essex is recognised internationally for our expertise in the social sciences, and is home to a concentration of some of the most highly-rated researchers, departments, and research centres in the UK. Through our Institutes of Social and Economic Research, and Analytics and Data Science, and the UK Data Archive, we’re also a leading university for data analysis and longitudinal research. Our expertise is already helping national and regional organisations evaluate the impact of their interventions, analyse their spend, and prioritise their resources for the future.

  • We help local government organisations and businesses interrogate and scrutinise data
  • We extract the true worth of your data and find answers to inform future decision-making
  • We provide employee training and professional development across a range of evaluation disciplines
  • We can offer flexible support, from consultancy and CPD to survey and interview design, and randomised controlled trials
  • We have a dedicated evaluation service for the health and care sector Find out more.
In these times of public sector cuts, certainty and assurance that your investment is going to make a demonstrable difference to people’s lives is vital
Essex Evaluation Services

Stay on track with confidence

We can help you design interventions with evaluation built-in at every stage to keep you on track, enhance your decision-making and minimise the barriers to improvement.

Drawing on our experience and research, we look at what’s worked before, and advise on best practice. We help you base your strategy on timely and relevant evidence. Our expertise is wide in this area, from qualitative and quantitative statistics to ethnographics and history, and from experimental and pilot scheme design and measurement to survey design and evaluation techniques.

We will draw on this know-how to help you evaluate your current working methods and inform future changes and improvements. It’s the complete toolkit to de-risk your decisions.

Our successful projects

Suffolk County Council

We are helping develop and assess services supporting vulnerable mothers facing recurring care proceedings.

The English family justice system faces a crisis of ‘revolving doors’ and reoccurring care proceedings: up to one in four birth mothers who have a baby taken into care in England are likely to re-appear in another set of care proceedings within seven years.

New services have been established to provide support to affected mothers and we've conducted one of the first academic evaluations of their impact. We’ve also developed a new app we hope can be used by social workers gathering information about the impact of these innovative approaches.

Click here to read more.

Health Education East of England

Exploration of the influences on developing and maintaining a successful mentorship process: An investigation of mentorship from multiple perspectives.

This report looks at the motivation, attitudes, perceptions and experiences of mentors in preparing for the role of mentor and providing learners with a positive mentorship experience. It also includes a review of why some health care staff are less than satisfied with the mentorship experience. The report was commissioned by a Local Education and Training Board (LETB) and focuses on the views of mentors, trainee mentors and health care education managers in a specific geographical region in England.

Click here to read more.

NHS England

Investing in Specialised Services: Analysis of Responses to an NHS England National Consultation.

In January 2015 NHS England published a national consultation called Investing in Specialised Services. This national consultation document described the proposed principles and processes by which NHS England will make future decisions on investment in specialised services. The consultation sought views on the proposed principles, process and their likely impact on reducing inequalities; it was open for 90 days and closed on 27 April 2015. Health and Care Research Service (HCRS) analysed these responses as part of a national consultation and presented the findings in a report for NHS England

Click here to read more.

Essex County Council and Suffolk County Council

We’re helping Essex County Council and Suffolk County Council use cutting-edge technology to predict risk and target services for vulnerable people.

 When it comes to providing services for the most vulnerable people in society, the goal is better prevention and early intervention, rather than later reaction. We’re helping Essex County Council and Suffolk County Council use cutting-edge technology to predict risk and target their efforts with a project called Catalyst which has received £2.2 million funding from HEFCE.

Our expertise in data analytics, big data and evaluation will be applied to assess risks and evaluate the impact and effectiveness of initiatives undertaken by the two councils, which serve a combined population of 2.5 million people. We’re also establishing a community volunteering hub to strengthen our links with the local community and increase our volunteering activity.

The three-year project will deliver four initiatives:

  • Identifying ‘at risk’ children and adults
  • Evaluating the impact of public services
  • Mapping the assets within a community
  • Community volunteering hub

Click here to read more.

NHS Midlands and East

What are the key factors in the successful implementation of assistant practitioner roles in a health care setting?

The aim of the project was to assess the key factors necessary to ensure the successful implementation of the assistant practitioner role into a health care setting. The study objectives were:

  • To carry out a review of the literature regarding the introduction of the assistant practitioner grade, and the challenges and barriers to successful implementation.
  • To conduct a stakeholder consultation to explore the perceptions of the impact of assistant practitioners in practice, the scope for further implementation, and where assistant practitioners are not routinely employed to determine the perceived barriers to their use in the workforce.
  • To develop an action plan with clear objectives and outcomes that will form the basis of future workforce planning in the region.

Click here to read more.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Trust and Norfolk County Council 

The Norfolk Parent Infant Mental Health Attachment Project (PIMHAP) was a joint venture between Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) and Norfolk County Council (NCC) and began operationally in March 2015.

The project involved specialist mental health and children’s services and consistent collaboration with the Children’s Case Advisory Service (CCAS) which commissions packages of care for high need families. PIMHAP was initially funded by the Transformational Challenge fund through the Department of Communities and Local Government. The project was commissioned to intervene with edge of care cases where there were significant safeguarding concerns alongside attachment problems in the parent/infant relationship and an identified parental mental health problem.

Health and Care Research Service (HCRS) co-produced an evaluation of this service, advising on design and measures, analysing data gathered and providing a report based upon the findings. This work is also presented in a forthcoming paper in an academic journal: McPherson, Andrews, Taggart, Cox, Pratt, Smith & Thandi (in press),  evaluating integrative services in edge-of-care work. Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law.

Essex County Council

Our academic team in partnership with Essex County Council conducted a systematic review and stakeholder engagement study of system-wide interventions for enabling employment among mentally ill and learning disabled groups.

The review resulted in the design of a system-wide occupational and employment support system in Essex for people with mental illness and learning disabilities

This project was supported by the University of Essex Impact Acceleration Award (Economic and Social Research Council) and the University of Essex Catalyst fund within the Challenge Lab scheme. The work was co-designed by academic staff at the University of Essex and Essex County Council leads in mental health and learning disabilities.

Click here to read more.

Our team

Professor Pamela Cox

Director of the ESRC-funded South East Network for Social Sciences (SeNSS) spanning 10 universities and 13 disciplines.

Professor Pamela Cox's research is interdisciplinary and draws on social policy, socio-legal studies, social history and criminology. She has worked as a policy consultant with local authority and voluntary sector organisations in the UK and abroad. Her recent evaluation work includes a team-led mixed method assessment of the impacts of new services working to reduce recurrent care proceedings among vulnerable birth mothers. This work is discussed in a recent Ministry of Justice bulletin, within resources created by Research in Practice, and in our co-authored articles in the Journal of Law and Society and the Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law. Professor Cox's other evaluation projects have focused on young people, life chances, youth offending, child rights, antisocial behaviour and victim satisfaction.

Dr. Jo Barton and Dr. Mike Rogerson

Dr Jo Barton and Dr Mike Rogerson lead on evaluative research on behalf of the Green Exercise Research Team.

They have extensive experience in evaluating health and wellbeing, and behavioural interventions for vulnerable groups including youth at risk, and adults experiencing dementia, homelessness, depression, anxiety and low self-esteem.

Since 2003, the Green Exercise Research Team has worked with a range of charities, non-profit and private organisations, both as a sole evaluator and in collaborative partnerships. Their evaluations have included both quantitative and qualitative methods and are primarily although not exclusively of programmes that incorporate key usage of nature environments or natural elements (such as farms) to facilitate activity and improve health and wellbeing.

Dr. Ewen Speed

Research Director at the School of Health and Social Care and Co-director of Health and Care Research Service

Ewen Speed is a medical sociologist with expertise in qualitative analysis. His research is concerned with the changing policy landscape in the English NHS. He has previously been commissioned by Essex County Council, NHS England, West Essex CCG and others to conduct evaluation research. He was also seconded by Healthwatch Essex to advise on a number of projects. He is also currently an awards assessor on the National Institute for Health Research East of England Research for Research for Patient Benefit programme.

Dr. Valerie Gladwell

Senior Lecturer at the School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences

Dr Valerie Gladwell has expertise in health and wellbeing, particularly in relation to physical activity and workplace health. She has worked with a range of stakeholders including BAE systems, Copdock Mill and has recently been seconded to Essex County Council. She has developed, organised and managed a number of evaluation workshops.

She is currently working with ActiveEssex to construct a framework for designing physical activity interventions and helping ensure evaluation is a priority for their providers. Dr Gladwell also has expertise in behaviour change and has developed workshops to enable a range of stakeholders to understand the process of behaviour change.

Dr. Susan McPherson

Director of Research Impact, School of Health and Social Care Co-Director of Health and Care Research Service

Susan McPherson is a medical sociologist with expertise in health and social care evaluation. Her research is concerned with mental health interventions and policy, therapy outcomes and effectiveness, social care, fostering and adoption, chronic depression, psychiatric labelling and social history and history of health and care.

She has previously been commissioned by Essex County council, NHS England, North Essex CCG, Healthwatch Essex and other health and care organisations to undertake evaluative design and analysis and consultancy. She has been part of the evaluation team evaluating social care services for reducing recurrent care proceedings and contributed to designing the evaluation toolkit for these services.

Dr. Katharine Richardson

Senior Research Officer at the Health and Care Research Service 

Katharine Richardson is an experienced researcher within the healthcare setting. Success has been achieved through self-motivation and ensuring effective communication and collaboration focused on building relationships and securing stakeholders support to ensure that all clinical, research and audit objectives are met. She has over 10 years’ experience working within the healthcare setting, with expertise in service evaluations and collaborative research. She now leads on external collaborative research and service evaluations as part of her role as a Senior Research Officer for the School of Health & Social Care (University of Essex) .

Katharine’s positions include:

  • University of Essex, Health & Social Care - Senior Research Officer for the Health and Care Research Service (HCRS)
  • University of Southampton, Faculty of Medicine – Visiting Fellow • University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust - Honorary Clinical Physiologist
  • Perioperative Exercise Testing and Training Society – Research Sub-committee

Dr. Gina Yannitell Reinhardt 

Director of the Programme Impact Evaluation Team in the OfS-funded Catalyst Project at the University of Essex (OfS is formerly known as HEFCE).

Dr. Gina Yannitell Reinhardt's research is interdisciplinary and draws on public policy, political economy, and environmental studies. She has worked as a policy and evaluation consultant with local authority and voluntary sector organisations in the UK and abroad. Her recent evaluation work includes a team-led assessment of the impacts of new services working to reduce vulnerabilities and build resilience. Included in this work is evaluations of social prescribing and Local Area Coordination programmes, as well as data sharing programmes and programmes designed to reduce domestic violence. Their work can be seen in forthcoming editions of Local Government Studies and Social Science Quarterly.

Dr. Gina Yannitell Reinhardt's other evaluation projects have focused on building resilience through voluntary programmes, sexual health and education, and enhancing school readiness through data sharing. She founded the Global South Academic Network and the Disaster and Emergency Research Network to facilitate linkages among communities dedicated to building research capacity in the Global South and with respect to disasters and crises. Her team is currently developing a toolkit to help local authorities design and evaluate their own programmes and projects.

Dr Kakia Chatsiou

Senior Research Officer at the Programme Impact Evaluation Team, Catalyst Project, Department of Government

Dr Kakia Chatsiou’s research focuses in the areas of public administration evaluation, data science and artificial intelligence. She has worked as an evaluation and data compliance consultant with local authorities and voluntary sector organisations in the UK and has delivered training to policy makers on evaluation practices, text analytics and data sharing. Her recent evaluation work includes the evaluation of the Essex Data Platform programme (Essex County Council) and she is currently supporting Essex Dementia Challenge Prize contestants evaluate solutions aimed at improving the life of people with dementia (Essex County Council). Her work can be seen in forthcoming editions of Local Government Studies and Research & Politics.

Dr. Kakia Chatsiou’s work focuses on how data can fuel positive changes to society and individuals and how challenges of ethics, privacy and safeguarding can be overcome through compliance and transparency. She is a member of the Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences and has represented the University at the Whole Essex Information Sharing Framework. Working within Dr. Reinhardt’s team, she has been working closely with local authorities and voluntary organisations to develop an Evaluation Toolkit, an easy to access and streamlined process that all policy makers and public programme commissioners can use to evaluate programmes and projects.

Talk to us about how our fresh thinking and expert consultancy in evaluation can inject assurance, evidence, and confidence into your organisation.

Get in touch
Get in touch
Dr Dorian Hayes Knowledge Exchange Manager
Telephone: 01206 874976