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Queensland Stay On Your Feet® - Step 4E: Consider next steps

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Step 4E: Consider next steps

Most projects/programs are limited by time and funding, meaning the final project report and celebration may be the end of your work on this specific project/program. There may be one aspect of your project/program that was very successful or the overall impact/outcomes may indicate sufficient success to warrant applying for ongoing funding. If you are involved in an ongoing program, keep investigating, planning, implementing and reviewing (as appropriate) to help you maintain action and achieve your objectives and goals over the life of your project/program.

Why sustainability is important
Sustainability refers to the continuation of project/program strategies or the project/program itself beyond the life of the initial work to continue ongoing progress towards your original goals and objectives [16, 95]. Sustainability can also be referred to as maintenance. There are four main reasons why sustainability is important [95]:

  • projects/programs that are sustained can maintain their effect over a long period of time [95]
  • there is a lag period of around three to ten years from the beginning of the project/program to the time when change can be seen in population health [95]
  • investment is lost when a project/program is not sustained [95]
  • the stop and start nature of projects can make the community feel disillusioned which may prevent future involvement [95].

Is your project sustainable?
The only aspects of a project/program worth sustaining are those that are effective [95]. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the evaluation of strategies show they are effective, feasible and acceptable to the target group in the real world before efforts are made to make these strategies a part of the ongoing routine work and practice in organisations. To determine the sustainability of your project/program, ask the following questions.

  • Who has heard of the project/program?
  • Has the project/program influenced practice?
  • What practices have changed as a result of the project/program?
  • What skills remain in the community? [22]
  • What structures are in place? [22]
  • What networks are in place? [22]
  • What products are in place? [22]
  • What services are in place?
  • What polices are in place? [22]
  • What external investment in the project/program has occurred by other organisations? [105]
  • Do participants and stakeholders feel that they now own the project/program?
  • What human, financial and/or infrastructure resources are being used by other organisations? [105]

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Sustainability can be considered at a number of levels, including:

  • awareness eg. number of people who have heard about the project/program [96]
  • influence eg. number of people who felt that the project/program influenced them in some way [96]
  • routine or practices eg. aspects of the project/program which have become a part of an organisation's routine practices [96]
  • skills ie. Do community members and stakeholders have the knowledge, skills and experience to undertake falls prevention activities (increased community capacity)? [22]
  • structures eg. organisational and environmental structures such as local government action plans and ramps and hand rails in public places [22]
  • networks eg. the number of relevant working groups or committees committed to continuing the project/program [22]
  • availability of products to help reduce falls eg. safer shoes [22]
  • services eg. the number of physical activity programs that focus on balance and strength [22]
  • policy eg. organisations and government departments that include falls prevention and healthy active ageing as a part of their policies and core business [95]
  • investment eg. other groups and organisations making a tangible investment in the project/program [95]
  • ownership eg. the degree that project/program participants and key stakeholders feel that they own the project/program [95]
  • resources eg. use of community financial, human and infrastructure resources to continue the project/program [95] and ongoing availability of resources developed (such as brochures, web links, self assessment tools).

Improving your sustainability
To improve a project/program's sustainability:

  • minimise the longer term reliance/dependence on external funding providers
  • match the delivery of the project/program with the core role or mission of the organisation [94]
  • integrate strategies into the context of existing systems, structures and services [16]
  • formalise into policy and procedures and integrate falls prevention strategies into the core business of organisations, where appropriate
  • provide stakeholders with ongoing support, training and education
  • take a partnership approach of defined and shared roles, responsibilities and resources
  • document concrete project/program impact and outcomes [94]
  • market the project/program's worth effectively eg.  promote the benefits for older people and health professionals [16]
  • gain project/program visibility through effective marketing eg. newsletters, social media [16]
  • avoid the reliance/dependence on a temporarily employed project officer
  • be informed by an advisory group made up of credible key stakeholders and the target group [94]
  • ensure projects/programs meet community needs [94]
  • have a champion who provides strong leadership with charisma, skills and dedication [94].

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Assessing the cost/benefit
An economic cost/benefit analysis of your project/program is vital for deciding whether to continue funding the program or certain interventions [87]. At a minimum, the project/program can report on the actual costs of the intervention including:

  • labour eg. project/program staff, superannuation, administration support, consultant fees, external labour [87]
  • consumables eg. project/program resources, brochures, checklists, booklets, equipment, venue hire, travel costs and catering [87]
  • capital eg. buildings and infrastructure such as walking paths and hand rails
  • overheads eg. vehicle use, office equipment, rent, insurance costs, telephone and photocopying
  • in-kind support (estimating the value of in-kind support such as free office space or venues for conducting exercise classes or volunteers assists in determining true costs, as other projects/programs may not have access to this cost saving).

Estimating the economic cost/benefit of falls prevention projects/programs has some limitations as the costs of falls are only estimates, and this cost changes due to inflation and other health care cost variations [71]. Conducting a comprehensive economic analysis may require epidemiological assistance due to its complexity.

Falls prevention in actionRead case studies about how others evaluated their project's sustainability.

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Last updated: 3 October 2012