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Medway SOS Bus: evaluation of performance and impact on local health services

Medway SOS Bus: evaluation of performance and impact on local health services

Armstrong, David, Scott, Cherill and West, Elizabeth (2011) Medway SOS Bus: evaluation of performance and impact on local health services. Project Report. University of Greenwich, Greenwich, London, UK. (Unpublished)

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The School of Health and Social Care, University of Greenwich was commissioned to undertake an evaluation of the Medway SOS Bus Project. The final report looks in detail at the period May 31st 2009 to May 31st 2010. The Medway SOS Bus project was developed by the Medway Community Safety Partnership, whose members are: the Council for Voluntary Services Medway, Medway Drugs and Alcohol team and NHS Medway. The Bus was intended to have a dual use: on Friday and Saturday nights between 9pm and 4am it would be positioned in known "hotspots" in order to provide a safe haven for vulnerable individuals and help reduce crime and distress. During the day it would be available for use by organisations engaged in health promotion and primary care outreach. Detailed targets were drawn up for both and a full-time co-ordinator was appointed.

The evaluation is based on data collected by a range of methods: direct observation of two night-time and one day-time session; analysis of the routine statistics compiled by the Project Co-ordinator; semi-structured interviews with key informants (for example, from the Public Health department and the SOS Bus project’s Steering Group); and information collected by postal questionnaire from volunteers on the night time Bus and from people who visited the night Bus. Where appropriate, we compared our findings on the Bus’s performance with similar projects in other urban areas.

We conclude that the SOS Bus Project made substantial progress in its first 18 months. The number of people attending the night time sessions compared well with other similar schemes. In the day-time, the Bus was used for outreach work by different Public Health teams and – less often – by other agencies for activities such as health outreach. One major disappointment was that, due to lack of sufficient volunteers, the night Bus was only able to operate on Friday nights. Another challenge facing the Project Steering Group was that of obtaining secure future funding for the SOS Bus. With hindsight, it can be seen that the original targets set for the Bus’s performance were over-ambitious. Measured against the business plan, the night Bus achieved 47% utilisation and the day Bus only 16% utilisation. The amount raised through hiring the Bus to outside organisations was negligible.

Despite these shortcomings, we consider that the Bus has considerable potential in the future. Our analysis of the available statistics suggests that the service has been run efficiently and, given more regular deployment, would have reached most of its performance targets. We report comments from volunteers, clients and others which reflect its value as a resource for outreach work in the day and the provision of care and advice at night.

Based on performance statistics over an 18-month period plus the information collected in our fieldwork, the research team developed a number of recommendations with regard to setting and achieving objectives and targets, roles of the steering group, project co-ordinator, securing funding and volunteers, and the assessment of risk.

Item Type: Monograph (Project Report)
Uncontrolled Keywords: public health, health promotion, primary care outreach, community safety, evaluation, health checks, sexual health, alcohol and drugs, crime reduction, night time economy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Pre-2014 Departments: School of Health & Social Care > Centre for Nursing & Healthcare Research
School of Health & Social Care > Nursing Research Group
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Last Modified: 07 Aug 2018 09:19

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