First STRiDE Research tool: Using Theory of Change for strategic direction in programmes to improve dementia care and support

As part of the STrengthening Responses to Dementia in developing countries (STRiDE) project we wanted to learn, from those who know the realities of dementia care and policy, what should be the strategic direction for our project in each of the countries where STRiDE is taking place (Brazil, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Mexico and South Africa), and for the project as a whole.

Our partners from the University of Cape Town’s Alan J. Flischer Centre for Public Mental Health had used Theory of Change for previous projects such as the Programme for Improving Mental Health Care (PRIME) project and, under the leadership of Dr Erica Breuer, we developed a Theory of Change for STRiDE.

Theory of Change is an outcomes-based approach to describe systematically how a programme can achieve specific outcomes, this is done by mapping out the sequence of intermediate outcomes needed to achieve the programme’s aims.

In STRiDE this was done through a first Theory of Change workshop, involving all the partners in the project, to map how the project could contribute to achieving our aims to help people living with dementia to live well, and to ensure that family and other carers do not face excessive costs that could impoverish them or compromise their own health.

We then carried out a Theory of Change workshop in each of the countries, involving key stakeholders, to map what needed to happen to achieve these aims in each country, and to understand how to ensure our research project could best contribute to achieving these aims.

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A paper on the outcomes of the STRiDE ToC workshops is under preparation, but in the meantime we have prepared a document with guidance and resources on using Theory of Change with stakeholders to provide strategic direction for policy and programmes for dementia, based on our STRiDE experience.

This is the first of a series of Research Tools that will be produced as part of STRiDE, hoping that the research capacity we are developing as part of this project can be useful to others thinking of carrying similar work. Feel free to use and share!

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