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. The 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. If one is free to write down a story, it gives much more satisfaction to the person writing the story, because in surveys there is often the impression that the researchers only want to know what they have decided beforehand. There was a pleasant surprise of how much you can actually get out of a story." Annemie
"I found it very enriching to do it this way. I think it's a very nice methodology. I really felt listened to. When you see what comes out of the stories, it is sometimes written down in simple words, but there is a huge amount of information in it." Lieve
On the other hand, 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 in there, that there were so many linkages to draw between the different components of the story. It was very surprising, the richness of the stories, the structure, the content, also in the very short stories." Sylvia
"There is a huge amount of information transferred through the stories. We see very many factors and connections. And we didn’t image them; instead they could literally be read into words. The stories are very rich. It cannot be compared to a survey." Marc