Guidelines for Best Practices: The Issue

Guidelines for Undertaking Policy and Program Analysis

Policy analysis is disciplined application of intellect to public problems (Pal). The following guidelines are selected/generated/ adapted from a review and synthesis of theories and frameworks for conducting a policy analysis. The steps are iterative.

Understanding the Policy

Key aspects of Policy Components to Consider:

• aims and objectives
• content and dimensions
• values – explicit or implicit – and assumptions
• priorities/goals
• target populations/communities/groups
• outputs
• intended outcomes.


Define the Problem/Issue

The beginning point for any policy analysis is to describe the problem/ issue the policy/program is intended to address in a clear and unambiguous manner.

  • Consider Problem Definition as Iterative
  • This should be considered an iterative process, because as information is gathered and assessed in the next steps, the problem definition may shift.
  • Think in terms of deficits and excesses-too little, too much
  • Make it evaluative
  • Quantify where possible
  • Do not define the solution into the problem


Clearly State Policy Goal

The goal of the policy must be clear with no ambiguity. The following questions may help to identify the policy goal and determine whether there is agreement among stakeholders regarding the role home care should/can play in addressing the issue:

• Need: How significant is the identified need for the population served?

• Impact: What impact will any action taken to address the identified need have?


Assemble Evidence

Construct Alternatives

Possible alternatives include the "do nothing approach" (status quo), and any other that can benefit the outcome. Combining alternatives generates better solutions not thought of before. Relying on past experiences from other groups or policy analysis helps to create a more thorough analysis and understanding. It is important to avoid settling prematurely on a certain number of options in this step; many options must be considered before settling into a reduced number of alternatives. Brainstorming, research, experiments, writing scenarios, or concept mapping greatly help in finding new alternatives that will help reach an "optimal" solution.

Select Criteria

In order to compare, measure and select among alternatives, relevant evaluation criteria must be applied to the projected outcomes. In establishing criteria consider cost, net benefit, effectiveness, efficiency, equity, administrative ease, legality, and political acceptability. Economic benefits must be considered in evaluating the policy.

Project Outcomes

Confront Trade-Offs across projected outcomes and decide amoungst them

Packaging of alternatives into strategies is the next step in accomplishing a thorough policy analysis. It becomes necessary to evaluate how each possible alternative benefits the criteria previously established.

Additional data needs to be collected in analyzing the different levels of influence: the economical, political and social dimensions of the problem. These dimensions are analyzed through quantitative and qualitative analysis, that is the benefits and costs per alternative. Political questions in attaining the goals are analyzed as to see whether they satisfy the interested parties of the policy analysis. In doing this more concise analysis the problem may not exist as originally identified; the actual problem statement from the first step may suffer a transformation, which is explained after evaluating the alternatives in greater detail


Tell Your Story

Clearly State Policy Goal

The goal of the policy must be clear with no ambiguity. The following questions may help to identify the policy goal and determine whether there is agreement among stakeholders regarding the role home care should/can play in addressing the issue:

• Need: How significant is the identified need for the population served?

• Impact: What impact will any action taken to address the identified need have?


Environmental Scan

Consider Issues that affect the policy process

• trade-offs
• social, political and policy context – nationally/locally
• relationship to other policies or strategies
• non-negotiable aspects of the policy.


Ensure Stakeholder Involvement

Stakeholder involvement in the development of policy is desirable to ensure the policy is reflective of realities from a variety of perspectives and that the policy development process is transparent. Both increase the likelihood of successful implementation. The following process is advisable:

• Identify key stakeholders
• Develop an appropriate consultation process
• Manage expectations
• Implement consultation
• Record all stakeholder input
• Use input to improve policy development and gain acceptance
• Conduct further consultation as required.

It is important to articulate the assumptions guiding the development of the policy to ensure they are shared by all stakeholders.


Consider the Current Context

Many factors must be considered in developing policy that supports and promotes Seniors’ values/perspectives. The following checklist provides a useful planning and evaluation tool.


Factors and Issues to Consider

Evaluative Criteria
Efficiency Equity
Robustness
Principle objective to be maximized or minimized

Economic

Are there funds available to implement the options?

Legal

Is the option constitutional and in accordance with provincial and federal law?

Social

• Is the option socially acceptable?

• Does it reflect a holistic approach

• What are the community impacts and how are they addressed?

• What are the caregiving impacts and how are they addressed?

Stakeholder Involvement

• Have stakeholders been consulted and engaged in the policy development process?
• How have groups not usually involved in policy-making been included? Rural, remote, multicultural groups, individuals with disabilities, etc.

Political Acceptibilty

Community expectations

• Who is affected by the policy?
• How will negative effects be addressed?
• What are the stakeholders’views?

Implementation Issues

• What resources are needed for successful implementation?
• How is ‘success’measured?
• How will things be different if the policy works?
• What communication strategy is required?

Effectiveness

• Will it make a difference to the problem?
• How will we know?