Together with the Institute for the Future at the University of Leuven (Belgium) and the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Voices That Count set up an online listening research project in April 2020. In this pilot project, we captured the experiences of people who are professionally or non-professionally involved in elderly care during the COVID-19 crisis.
The main objective was to explore whether the SenseMaker methodology allowed for collecting the voices of various groups of people during the peak of a pandemic in order to quickly and intelligently gain an insight into what was going on within a particular group, and thus feed into policy. Elderly care was our chosen topic. An online tool was used to collect a total of 120 stories from professional caregivers, informal carers and family members of elderly people.
These patterns and stories were analysed and read quickly after collection with a small group of people. This allowed us to gain almost live insights of what was happening at the time in the field of elderly care during the Covid-19 pandemic. These insights generated recommendations for policy makers and were shared with the Welfare Minister's office.
Download the report in Dutch:
"What you can express in a story versus what you can say in a survey is very different. It's much more satisfying if one is free to write down a story, because in surveys you often get the impression that the researchers only want to know what they have decided beforehand. To me, it was a pleasant surprise to see how much information you can actually get out of even one single story." Annemie
"I found it very enriching. I really felt listened to. And the insights we got from reading the stories together were very powerful. The stories were sometimes written down in simple words, but we still found a very valuable information in them." Lieve
The rich stories also immediately gave a more nuanced picture of the experiences of different groups of people, and prompted further research. Thus, the Institute for the Future also wanted to find out in what way the stories could help in quickly detecting problems and spotting possible (avenues for) solutions; and this in comparison with data generated through other research/ways.
Therefore, from the 120 stories, two system maps were made (one around the eldery in residential care centres, and one around the elderly in home environments) in which the dynamics and underpinning/underlying causes & consequences,... are exposed. This was done in an online workshop with various stakeholders.
Feedback from the participants:
"I was very surprised that there was so much information in the stories, and that there were so many linkages between the different components in one single story. Also the very short stories were still meaningful." Sylvia
"There is a huge amount of insights transferred through the stories. We saw many critical factors and connections. And we didn’t invent them; instead they could literally be read in the words. The stories are very rich. It cannot be compared to a survey." Marc