In addition to carrying out the activities in your implementation plan, your group will need to document the process and describe any changes you make to your original plan along the way. A complete description of how your intervention was implemented helps provide information on fidelity of the implementation; this is part of the process evaluation described in Step 5 of the SPF.
Information to document may include participant demographics, recruitment methods, actual attendance, planned and implemented adaptations, cultural issues and how they were addressed, indications of unmet needs, and any other issues that arise (lack of organizational capacity, community resistance, etc.).
Generally, within three to six months of beginning a new strategy or activity, your staff or an appropriate committee should develop a systematic way to review your logic model and strategic plan:
Document intervention components that work well
Identify where improvements need to be made
Provide feedback so that strategies may be implemented more effectively
Make timely adjustments in activities and strategies to better address identified problems
Assess whether enough resources have been leveraged and where you might find more. Think about the sustainability of your strategies and outcomes.
Engage key stakeholders (such as community members, providers, and staff) so they feel a sense of responsibility and pride in helping to ensure that your group’s goals and objectives are met and that the substance misuse problem in the community is reduced
One way to assess the fidelity of your intervention is to create a fidelity checklist, if one is not already available from the intervention developers. List all the activities in your action plan and put a checkbox next to each activity. Check off each activity as you complete it and document the following:
Activities that were not implemented in the order suggested by developers
Activities you tried that did not work
New activities you created to take the place of ones that did not work
At the end of this process, you will have a good record of what you did and did not implement, the challenges you faced, and how you overcame each challenge.
Plan for Sustainability
The implementation of strategies to bring about significant community change rarely takes place in a short time frame. As you build capacity to bring about change, you should also consider how to generate resources to sustain your strategies, beyond the expense of carrying out an intervention.
Sustaining your work includes both institutionalizing strategies and finding additional financial support for them―both of which should be planned for by the time you begin to implement activities. It is important to form a working group of staff and coalition partners to focus on sustainability planning, since getting key stakeholders involved from the beginning can inspire them to become advocates for your work and champions for sustaining your activities.
Planning for financial stability involves figuring out strategies and action steps to obtain and grow the diverse resources—human, financial, material, and technological—needed to sustain your efforts over time. Additional resources may include finding in-kind support, recruiting and sustaining a volunteer staff, obtaining commitments for shared resources from other organizations, or persuading another organization to take on a project begun by your group.
Institutionalizing your work is a long-term process that requires finding ways to make the policies, practices, and procedures you have established become successfully rooted in the community. Make use of existing systems and frameworks relevant to your work, which can be stepping stones to eventual policy changes. This can also help extend the length of time you have to work on the issues, since it may take years to build a comprehensive solution.
Partnerships are key in finding ways to integrate your work into existing departments within a municipality or into other organizations. To do this, it is important to invest in capacity, teach people how to assess needs, build resources, and effectively plan and implement prevention interventions to create the systems necessary to support these activities going forward.
Read more about sustainability here.