Background and Context:
The Midhurst Macmillan Specialist Palliative Care Service is a UK, medical consultant-led, multidisciplinary team aiming to provide round-the-clock advice and care, including specialist interventions, in the home, community hospitals and care. Key features include early referral, flexible work practices and lack of designated beds.
Macmillan wanted to commission evaluation in order to: determine whether the service was meeting its original aims; gather financial evidence for commissioning; assess the extent to which the service could serve as a model for palliative care elsewhere.
Submitted evaluation tenders approached the project from very different perspectives exhibiting different strengths and weaknesses. All proposals had positive features but none addressed all 8 aspects of the brief adequately. Instead of appointing 1 organisation Macmillan decided to use the strongest points from 3, and appointed 2 academic partners together with a management consultancy stipulating a clear brief that all must work collaboratively together.
The academic teams and the consultancy team were initially sceptical that collaboration could work and a number of workshops were convened to align approaches.
The academic teams brought qualitative research experience, tools to measure organisational receptivity, working practices, relationships and culture, together with clinical insight; the management consultant team was able to quickly deploy resources to access local and national patient data as well as innovative analytical techniques.
Outcomes/What was learned:
It was possible for a charity to broker a productive partnership between 2 academic teams and a management consultancy team. The consultancy approach allowed financial data to be reported quickly, giving the academic teams the necessary time to explore the impact on organisations and professional relationships, where ethical permissions and data collection took longer. This staged approach was helpful in a rapidly changing policy environment and enabled financial, organisational and relational elements to be effectively evaluated.