Case study: VOCAL Carer Survey
VOCAL supports and empowers unpaid carers in Edinburgh and Midlothian by providing individual support, information, training and access to services. The organisation was already committed to using research to evaluate and inform its activities, having conducted Carer Surveys in 2011, 2013 and 2015. In 2017 VOCAL took the decision to outsource the 2017 Carer Survey and Scotinform was delighted to be appointed.
The purpose of the research was to understand the experiences and views of carers in Edinburgh and Midlothian. The results would be used to inform VOCAL’s own Forward Plan and also to provide information to inform its role as a representative organisation for carers. It was important to have a separate report for Edinburgh and Midlothian. The research was taking place at an exciting time for VOCAL, with the implementation of the new Carers (Scotland) Act and the creation of a new Edinburgh Carers’ Hub in Leith coinciding in 2018. Capturing the views of carers was therefore considered of crucial importance to allow their voices to influence these new opportunities.
The Carer Survey had previously been conducted on paper and had achieved good response rates. To allow meaningful comparisons with previous surveys, we were keen to retain this methodology for 2017. However, we added in an electronic version of the survey. This had the advantage that it could be shared on social media and “snowballed” to other carers, thereby also collecting the views of those who had not previously engaged with VOCAL.
We also incorporated Mosaic Scotland profiling in the questionnaire, which meant that we could save space on the questionnaire for more specific questions. This is important for a paper survey!
The questionnaires were returned to Scotinform using our Freepost address and inputted to Snap Survey Software, which allowed for detailed analysis of the findings.
We presented the findings to VOCAL staff and to funders in Edinburgh and Midlothian. The final reports are available on the VOCAL website.
The consistency of methodology meant that we were able to compare results and spot trends. For example, we noted an increase in the proportion of carers looking after children and young people, and identified the issues that were particularly affecting this group.
VOCAL’s satisfaction ratings were outstanding. The inclusion of people who had not engaged with VOCAL allowed us to assess the impact of the organisation, with the results suggesting that those participants who had engaged with VOCAL experienced fewer negative impacts as a result of their caring role. These were powerful advocacy messages for VOCAL to communicate to funders and stakeholders.
The Mosaic profiling allowed us to provide VOCAL with information about carers’ communications preferences and technology adoption, and to compare their profile with that of the surrounding area.
Presenting the results to VOCAL staff and stakeholders ensured that the research was understood and provided an opportunity for discussion and the development of new ideas. This is particularly important given the fast pace of change in the caring environment.
“Caring is a very private and personal matter, but the personal is political. With some 750,000 people in Scotland caring for a relative or friend, the voice of carers must be heard in public health and social care development.
To reflect carers’ wishes and aspirations credibly and successfully, VOCAL required a more modern and professional approach and we were delighted to link to Scotinform as independent and objective market research partner.”
Sebastian Fischer, Chief Executive
We always start by making sure you understand our needs – the research design emerges once we’ve understood how you’re going to use the results to make decisions.
We are a licence holder for Mosaic UK and Mosaic Scotland. By simply collecting a postcode from a customer we can provide you with a wealth of demographic, lifestyle and marketing information.
We love talking about what we find! By sharing the results within and outside the organisation we created a forum for discussion and new ideas. On the back of VOCAL’s survey, Edinburgh health and social care partners are now considering using Mosaic to provide a geodemographic baseline on carer prevalence in the city and inform the new Edinburgh Carers Strategy.