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Selected Projects and Client Responses:

Project #1: Scan of Supports for Mental Health in the Early Years in Canada, and Economic Analyses in Canada and UK

Client: Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC)

Team: Woodman, Brower, Krupa & Boine

Clients’ Response:Your team totally surpassed our expectations and hopes for this project. We are so incredibly grateful for the multitude of options you have helped us unpack, uncover . . . Your findings were very illuminating. They substantiated some of our (theories from early exploration) and provided several pointed/targeted avenues for future action. We will continue to think through the tremendous, comprehensive work you have done for us, and its multiple applications . . . (BH & LM) Mental Health Commission of Canada 20.10.02

Project Summary: Our aim was to provide the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) with a data-base of initiatives operating in Canada, and an understanding of the extent to which these were based on evidence and being evaluated. We also gathered examples of helpful economic analyses (including (social) return on investment, cost-benefit, etc). This was to enable MHCC to conceptualize the state of development of EY MH, recommend key actions and considerations for the Commission’s influence to positively impact policies and programs in the sector, and understand the state of economic analyses and their potential. This scan uncovered hundreds of articles, websites and other data (in French and English) on programs and policies and economic analyses.

We found many worthwhile policies and programs in place - in government, universities, hospitals, clinics and community programs - using their skills to support mental health for pre-school children and their families. The EY MH sector has many dedicated organizations and individuals contributing to design and delivery of programs, policy, research and evaluation. The commitment to this much-needed work is laudable and truly making a difference for young children & their families.

Our findings also uncovered key challenges and barriers to progress for those working in the EY MH sector. Key strategies and interventions need further development. Some programs were evaluated, while others were not (including some widely implemented). Our search for helpful economic analyses found very few good examples in Canada but many more in UK.

The extent to which initiatives are evidence-based, or evaluated, or assessed economically varies considerably, but is so important. There is still much work to do in research and evaluation, as well as knowledge mobilization and utilization.


Project #2: Community Paramedicine Initiative (CPI): Innovation to improve health services in BC's rural and remote communities

Client: BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS)

Team: Woodman, Krupa, Kranjak, Brower

Project Summary: This innovation was designed to improve health services in targeted rural and remote communities in BC. Catalyst provided research and evaluation support over the 4-year project cycle, beginning with co- creating an Evaluation Framework to provide the roadmap for the innovation, learning and reporting. We developed performance monitoring and indicators, and tools and processes to tracking emergent findings. Catalyst provided evaluation capacity building training to empower local and provincial-level adaptation of the CPI model, including diversity considerations. We ensured the implementation team received the robust evidence needed to scale-up to full implementation. 

Patients were included early in the project, in designing the evaluation processes and tools (with equity and cultural sensitivity values), and in the analysis. They were surveyed and interviewed to include their voice and consulted on project learning from the research implemented. In addition, we evaluated the training for its impacts on community paramedics, provided training webinars, and presented and discussed with the Evaluation Advisory Committee. We also implemented 3 case studies to understand adaptation of the model (especially with Indigenous populations), supported infographic development, and provided snapshot, interim and final reports. Project and evaluation team co-presented results at three conferences and the reports are published on the BCEHS website. 

Clients’ Response: Catalyst work is top quality. The framework was very well received by the Provincial Advisory Committee (including BCEHS COO and VP of Medical Programs, Ministry of Health, Executives sponsors from Health Authorities and Union). Some thought it to be the best they had seen. Quality information was gathered from all stakeholders using appropriate, effective methods. All Catalyst reports were excellent, and are published on our website . . . BCEHS staff


Project #3: Evaluation Framework and Organizational Capacity Building for Evaluation (data gathering, formative and summative evaluation), Beneficiary Engagement and Knowledge Utilization for Learning and Advocacy

Client: Boys and Girls Clubs, Big Brothers Big Sisters (BGCBigs): Edmonton and Northern Alberta

Team: Krupa, Woodman and Brower

Project Summary: Catalyst ‘walked alongside’ BGCBigs for 3 years, using a developmental, participatory approach, to develop an evaluation framework, build organizational capacity for evaluation and knowledge utilization, and integrate beneficiaries’ voices.

We worked with an advisory committee comprising senior-level community and government stakeholders, and grounded the work in research literature. Catalyst developed tools or found validated tools, and applied meta-evaluation processes with staff to ensure capacity building and sustainability of learning. Environmental scan processes were used to develop a quality assurance matrix for user-friendly analysis, and a catalogue of validated tools and indicators of quality evaluation for agency use going forward.

Evaluation capacity building emphasized collaboration and co-design and implementation. These increased staff and board understanding of evaluation processes, quality evaluation, reporting at various levels and mobilizing/using results for positive change at organizational, policy and sector levels.

A final stage focused on engaging beneficiaries (e.g., children, youth, parents, volunteers) in a culturally responsive, culturally safe and inclusive ways. Creativity was used to address challenges in key areas. E.g., beneficiary data collection, and organizational and staff learning.

The evaluation and capacity building resulted in improved practices, agency policies (on evaluation and beneficiary inclusion) and a new evaluation function/department. Knowledge continues to be mobilized in multiple ways, including presentations and publications.

Client Response: to come


Project #4: Evaluation Framework, Formative Evaluation and Summative Evaluation of the "Farm Friends" program

Client: Canadian Mental Health Association: Vernon, BC

Team: Woodman & Krupa

Clients’ Response: Catalyst Research and Development (Gene and Kate) were very supportive, accessible and knowledgeable leaders in our program evaluation. If ever in need of guidance or advice, the team was available almost immediately. I couldn’t believe it when we got to spend time with them on-site, in our community farm or at focus groups where they led us in-person. Our organization felt truly guided by the best in a process we had never undertaken before. They took opportunity to educate us way above and beyond expectation!

If we had to do this kind of flexible and dynamic evaluation again, incorporating data alongside the many words of program participants, community members AND partners, we would hire Catalyst again without hesitation. You are a very personal and yet, very professional group! You guys were the best! JM for CMHA Vernon 19.10.07

Project Summary: Farm Friends is a community-based intervention program in Vernon, BC for families and individuals of all ages who are affected directly or indirectly by mental health and/or substance use issues. The "farm" became a place where clients and their families/caregivers gathered to learn about plants and food, as well as local resources and supports, and develop a supportive and inclusive community. The program challenged the stigma present in the community by building awareness and knowledge about mental health and substance use, addressed stereotypes and providing events that enabled stakeholders, beneficiaries and community to come together.

Catalyst led the participatory evaluation over 3 years, beginning with co-developing an evaluation framework based on research and local experience. We gathered data with clients, caregivers and community stakeholders, using creative and traditional approaches. We applied ethical and equity-based approaches and supported the program team in building their evaluation capacity and communicating their learning - from outset to final knowledge utilization. 

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