Our donor VivirJuntos paid the costs of an external evaluation that took place last November. We are existing about three years. So time to look more carfully how we are doing. The general aims of the evaluation were: (i) to find solutions to the weak points Ruach may possibly have in its planning and implementation of certain activities, and (ii) to become financially less dependent on funding from abroad.
To fulfil these aims an independent adviser conducted 14 interviews with Ruach stakeholders. She also visited Ruach several times to observe what was going on and held focus group interviews for Ruach board members, employees, beneficiaries and outsiders.
The highlights of the 30 page report are given below:
To what extent does the Ruach Foundation lives up to its mission and fulfils its targets, both in qualitative and quantitative terms?
Ruach’s current activities are in line with its mission and its targets. Ruach has managed to respond to the needs of the poorest among the poor. The quality of work in the home is very good. Participation of Ruach’s core community members and the two live-in carers is encouraged. There is a positive sense of connection and security. The quality of work in the activities centre is also good, in spite of the fact that the number of participants has declined. The dynamics and participation of the beneficiaries is very good. The intellectually disabled participants irrespective of age feel connected to the centre. They love their activities there and feel they are part of a process. The supervisor of the activities centre is well regarded.
Doing activities should empower both participants and staff. This is best achieved by working in small groups. An increase in number of participants would result in opportunities to offer a wider range of activities better focused on participant’s skills and preferences.
Evaluation of the working methods:
The Ruach Foundation has now existed for 2.5 years. The activities centre started in May 2016, the community home in August 2016. Ruach has gained rich experience in the community home, but the success of the activities is negatively affected by a decline in the number of participants.
The care and stimulation of the core members in the community home has been exemplary as can be clearly assessed by the progress made by the functioning of each of the core members. Likewise, Ruach has given valuable support to the staff working in the Home. These successes are based on the methodology used, the work protocols and the monitoring and evaluation tools used to assess the progress of the core members. In the early stages the core members are closely observed to ensure that they gradually get used to the routines in the home. Videos of Daniel and Loyda made throughout their stay at the Ruach home clearly verify this. The other strand in the success of the work in the home is that two members of staff who work in the home for at least one year have internalized the processes of caring for and paying attention to the core members.
There are big limitations in recruiting staff with specific qualifications. Therefore recruited staff are enrolled in an in-service training programme to tune them in to the needs of the core members, which requires patience, and a focus on repetition of activities and routines. Due to a lack of technical knowledge, training and experience, several employees have struggled to come to grips with these needs, and this initially resulted in a high staff turn-over. Progress has been made in this respect as Ruach now has got two home assistants who work with experience and dedication. Two other staff members only recently joined Ruach, but feel they are working in the right place.
In the activities club the supervisor is a relatively new recruit who works hard to get to grips with the methodologies she ought to use. She is making good progress and relates well with the people who use the activities centre. The key to success is the implementation of the methodology through protocols and work routines.
The decline in the number of participants is difficult. The reasons for this decline are: the limitations in the ability of the families of the participants to take their relatives to the centre; the current political situation resulting in a decrease in perceived safety, and an increase in economic hardship. Personal health issues also play a negative role for some participants
The external evaluation was completed just before the long holiday break. We are grateful for the clarity that the evaluation has given us. As the coordinator of the home and activities centre I am of course happy with the positive assessment of the care we provide. It is clear that there are issues we need to address in order to give Ruach a stronger foundation. Immediately after the summer holidays we started preparing a new work plan.