January 31, 2023. News

What works and why?  Oxford Brookes University commissioned to undertake evaluation of Thames Valley Hospital Navigator intervention programme

Oxford Brookes University has been commissioned by the Violence Reduction Unit to undertake an evaluation of the Hospital Navigator intervention programme, which is being delivered in five hospital A&E departments in the Thames Valley region.

Dr Sarah Bekaert, Oxford Brookes University

The evaluation will examine the project implementation and lessons learned, with a focus on how positive outcomes can be achieved for those who receive Navigator support.

The Oxford Brookes University team is led by Dr Sarah Bekaert and Dr Georgia Cook. They will be identifying what data can inform the evaluation and will be undertaking structured interviews with key stakeholders in the scheme; staff from hospitals, the police, voluntary sector partners, and those who have received the intervention and their parents where appropriate.

The final evaluation report will be published by April 2024.

For further information, contact Dr Sarah Bekaert or the VRU project coordinator Inspector Kelly Reed.

What is the Hospital Navigator intervention programme?

The Hospital Navigator intervention has been funded by the Violence Reduction Unit since 2020 and is being delivered at five A&E departments which collectively serve the whole Thames Valley:

Similar interventions are already in delivery in a number of locations across the country and it is an approach recognised by the Youth Endowment Fund as having “High Impact” in addressing the root causes of violence and supporting those vulnerable.

Unique to the Thames Valley scheme is the use of trained volunteers in A&E departments where they can support busy NHS staff by offering a friendly, independent ear to those who have been admitted under “risk circumstances”. Crucially, the Navigator service offers ongoing support to young people beyond the emergency department and proactively links them into services in the community.

Five different, local voluntary/charitable sector organisations deliver the schemes, recruiting, training and coordinating the volunteers while also linking them into the other support services which they offer, often including longer-term mentoring.

The initiative works on the principle that being admitted to hospital can create a “reachable and teachable moment” – a moment of reflection at the point of a crisis, creating an opportunity to offer support to change behaviours.  The Hospital Navigators seek to engage and use the time to help the person consider how behaviours put them at risk and to support them in accessing services, mentoring and healthcare as appropriate.  

Why invest in evaluation?

The evaluation will work across all of the five sites and is the VRU’s response to the  feasibility study funded by the national Youth Endowment Fund and undertaken by the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT).  Published in January 2023, the feasibility study highlighted the consistent approach being applied by the five different sites and the strong coordination across the region.

Evaluation of the longer-term impact and the effectiveness of interventions is a key element to the Violence Reduction Unit’s programme. Through evaluation we seek to evidence how the intervention works and why, helping to build the case for wider adoption and sustainable funding for the future. Our local evaluations also add to the wider national and international evidence-base.