How can the new equity-aware implementation competencies help you?

How can the new equity-aware implementation competencies help you?

This month GIS made available on its website new equity-aware implementation competencies to download here. The joint chairpersons of the group explain how you can use the new standards.

Why equity-aware implementation competencies?

By GIS committee co-chairs John Øvretveit (health) and Paul Tortolani (education)

Mohammed opened the door. “Are things OK Mohammed?” I asked, as a neighbor. I dropped by to check occasionally. He looked worried. “What is it, Mohammed?” He pointed to his chest. “Have you seen a doctor?” “No doctor.” I knew he had a doctor and made frequent visits for his chronic chest problems. Why? “No talk.”

Through a mixture of English and hand signs I discovered he could not get through on the telephone, by text and video, and could not understand the Swedish instructions he heard. I felt a chill go through me, a double chill. Mohammed was having difficulty breathing and needed to see his doctor quickly. Double, because I was helping implement the “digital first access” that we were rapidly introducing. Mohammed was one of several people who were not able to use it and had difficulty physically visiting the health center. 

We help establish in services “new better ways” of working or organizing using our implementation skills. Sometimes these innovations increase inequities in access or outcomes for some social groups. We can cause unnecessary suffering and higher costs often without knowing it.

How can the competence standards help me?

Service staff often know which users may have difficulty getting, using, or benefiting from their services. A new innovation or way of working may help users benefit from the service, or it may make it more difficult. The “equity-aware competencies” helps implementers to consider if any of the service users may be disadvantaged by the new, better way they will take up in their daily work. 

John, one of the two authors of this blog, had been facilitating the “digital first access” and had not been aware of its impact in some of the groups using our services. Paul, the second author of the blog, had been helping to facilitate others to implement a new literacy innovation in education services. Recently, he became more aware of how implementation of this innovation could increase inequities between young people if it was implemented in the wrong way.

The “equity-aware competencies” are a set of statements in a document you can download that help you to assess your competencies to facilitate others to take up a new better way or innovation. They are not meant to make you an expert in equity, but to help others to consider equity issues when they implement an innovation. There are six groups of statements and questions to help you assess if implementation facilitators are able to help others take up the innovation to avoid increasing inequities and, ideally, reduce inequities. 

How can I use the competency standards?

If you facilitate others to carry out a new way of working, such as an evidence-based practice, then you can assess each of your competencies needed to do this. We designed the statements so you could decide if you are a beginner, intermediate, or expert, or decide the competence of someone else. The idea was to try to be objective by thinking about what others would say about your competence and writing down a score. So, one of the statements is about how you faciliate others to collect data about how well the implementation is progressing. The beginner statement might best fit your assessement: ”Able to identify which data to collect about the steps in the progress of implementing the innovation.” Or the intermediate statement might better fit your assessment: ”Able to help the group to use data to decide if adaptations are needed to the steps and methods of implementation.”

Why would I use the competency standards?

You can use your printed copy with your self-assessment scores to follow your progress in gaining greater competencies over the months. Or, you could use it to show to someone, who could sponsor you, which competencies you need to develop. Later, we aim to show which development activities you could use for each of the competencies.   

If you manage or pay for people facilitating an implemention, you can use the statements in job descriptions or selection to assess which competencies a person may need to develop. Educators or accreditation agencies can also use the statements to judge if a program develops the range of competencies people need to equitably implement innovations. Researchers can use the standards for different purposes, for example to help implement an innovation they are evaluating.

Where did these standards come from?

We did not just think them up one day over lunch. They build on the original competencies that we made available in 2021, which were developed from reviews of best practice. Then, over two years in the GIS subcomittee, we used new knowledge about equity and implementation to make a new version, as well as simplify and clarify the statements so that people who do not have English as a first language or knew little about implementation could use them. We also consulted widely and then revised the statements to make them more useful and clearer.

We had to make some choices. To make it most useful to our members the first principle was to keep it simple and short. Then we chose to make it for people facilitating others. This could be members of a project team who are facilitating others to take up an innovation in their daily work or organization. Or, it could be a manager whose task it is to implement an innovation in their service and they need to faciliate their staff to use the innovation. 

What next?

Download the competencies and try them out from this web link. Then in September 2023, download the guidelines. Look out for GIS webinars and local education our regional colleagues are giving. Later in the year, we will give you a website where you can enter your scores in directly and use this to print a report and store your assessments so you can see what has changed over time. We will also give you an online resource where you can see objective indicators or examples of behaviors that demonstrate different competencies in different service sectors.

GIS exists to enable our members to carry out better implementation, to do research or education into implementation, and to finance more effective implementation programs. These standards are to help us reduce inequities when we implement an innovation. We know you will find them useful.