Using Magic Moments
Evaluating inclusive outdoor activities
We have recently completed an evaluation for Life Changes Trust of the six ‘Get Outdoors’ projects they have funded. The Get Outdoors projects have different focuses – from tool sheds to wildlife conservation to sports. But they all encourage people living with dementia and their unpaid carers to be more active and spend time outside.
We took a different approach to the evaluation, gathering key moments or ‘magic moments’ from the people participating, volunteering and working in the projects.
We did this for two reasons, because we were working with projects and activities that were taking place outside, in a variety of locations, such as bowling greens, allotments and community woods.
And also because the people living with dementia and their carers participating were busy doing activities or out walking. We didn’t want to get in the way, take people away from what they were doing, or bring them inside. If we used traditional evaluation methods, we would have missed the real action outdoors. A wonderful aspect of the projects was informality – the relaxed, friendly atmosphere. It was important to make the evaluation process as enjoyable and barrier-free to take part in as possible.
Taking part and experiencing magic moments together
So the approach we took was to visit the projects and take part in activities, if the group were happy with us doing that. We also watched what was going on and had lots of conversations with people, chatting about what was going on, how people felt, what they liked and enjoyed and the difference it made.
Because we didn’t used a closed format, there was plenty of space for all the other things people wanted to talk about. Like what was going on, the things people could see whilst we were walking, and the memories it prompted. For example, the Sporting Memories activities we evaluated are great at prompting reminiscence about sports (as well as giving everyone a chance to play different sports). So it wouldn’t make any sense to interrupt a group member’s rich, insightful story to focus on narrow interview questions!
Our observations from taking part, the photos and videos, and the conversations were gathered into Magic Moments. The moments were based around significant changes and impacts that people identified. The moments were often small but they are significant for individuals, families, volunteers and workers. We then used all the magic moments to assess the overall impact of people spending time outside.
Why Magic Moments make a difference
The magic moments collected gave us a richness and insight into the benefits of spending time outside for people living with dementia and their carers that we could never have gained from more usual methods.
It was clear spending time outside had real benefits for people living with dementia and their carers – and the Magic Moments show how this happens. The Magic Moments show different themes – like removing stigma, and increased physical ability – but most importantly they show how these were felt, interpreted and experienced by the people involved.
We think this has benefits, especially for community-based evaluations. When what really matters is equality, inclusion and wellbeing, numbers and surveys can’t always express the complex, dynamic ways these happen.
Here are a few magic moments from the Get Outdoors evaluation.
The Ecology Centre
Find out more
To find out more about the magic moments and evaluation, take a look at:
- The full Get Outdoors evaluation report
- Collected Magic moments from the Get Outdoors projects
- And the Summary Reports of each project on the Life Changes Trust website.
Or if you’d rather, watch this short animation we created as part of the evaluation:
We also recommend watching this brilliant shared learning webinar hosted by Life Changes Trust, exploring the themes, magic moments, and learning for future dementia-friendly outdoor projects.
For more information or to get our support with your evaluations, email Louise@otbds.org.