From 23rd to 25th February 2015, the Prevention Standards Partnership met in Athens, Greece, to discuss progress on the European Drug Prevention Quality Standards (EDPQS) Phase II project as well as possible next steps. Additionally, on 26th February, Greek project partner UMHRI organised a national training event on EDPQS, involving practitioners and commissioners from all over Greece.
Discussing findings from the ‘pilot training’ – finalising the EDPQS Training Pack
With the Phase II project officially coming to an end in March 2015, the Partnership focused on necessary actions to finalise the toolkits being developed at this stage of the work. Special attention was given to the results of the ‘pilot training’ activity, which was carried out in six partner countries at the beginning of 2015 (Mentor International’s Prevention Hub reported on the London event). During this pilot, the Partners tested the forthcoming EDPQS Training Pack, which has been developed by project partners ASL 2 Savonese and LJMU. In total, 99 individuals participated in the pilot training, including practitioners, policy-makers, commissioners, national certifiers and University students.
The EDPQS Training Pack will include a trainer’s guide, PowerPoint slides and handouts that can be used to deliver training on how to use the EDPQS. The intention is to provide materials which, if read and followed carefully, will enable interested individuals to become EDPQS trainers and to introduce and promote the EDPQS in their own contexts.
Results from the pilot training suggested that participants enjoyed the training, and that it helped them to appreciate the EDPQS more fully. Data about the pilot training were collected through observations, open discussions, a quiz and feedback forms. Partners reported that although many participants had known about the EDPQS previously, it was this training which helped participants to really understand how the standards can bring about practical benefits. Across all countries, participants’ favourite session was a group exercise during which the quality of a fictional prevention project was reviewed, using the EDPQS checklist from the Quick Guide. From the trainers’ perspective, project partners highlighted that more time should be allocated to the group exercises, as these were most beneficial to participants and facilitated a deeper engagement with the standards. At the meeting, the Partnership discussed these findings and agreed on necessary revisions of the EDPQS Training Pack.
Once the toolkits are ready for publication, the website will be updated accordingly and the Training Pack will then become available for download. The meeting also provided an opportunity to record video messages from Project Partners concerning the EDPQS project and the forthcoming toolkits, which will be added to the website alongside the toolkits.
Beyond Phase II
Plans for EDPQS activities beyond Phase II were also discussed. It was encouraging that all partners reported plans to continue work with the EDPQS at their national level. Besides promoting the toolkits, most Partners intend to use the EDPQS Training Pack to deliver training on the EDPQS in the months following Phase II. However, to better coordinate and sustain these efforts it was agreed that a Phase III project would be most beneficial. This confirmed the findings of a meeting held earlier this month in Bergeggi, Italy, under the auspices of Italian project partner Rachele Donini of ASL 2 Savonese to discuss plans for a potential Phase III. It was also reconfirmed that future work should focus on models of prevention systems and how the EDPQS can help to improve prevention policy-making and commissioning.
Promoting EDPQS in Greece
Greek project partners Ioulia Bafi and Anastasios Fotiou from the University Mental Health Research Institute (UMHRI), Greece, made use of the presence of the Partnership and organised a training event on the day following the partnership meeting. Some 20 practitioners and commissioners from different parts of Greece attended this event, many of whom had already been involved in earlier activities of the project and were interested to find out more.
Professor Harry Sumnall gave a lecture describing current concepts and emerging issues regarding prevention, and how quality standards may support prevention activities. The presentation expanded on some of the issues which will also be explored in the forthcoming EDPQS Position Paper authored by Harry.
This was followed by a session exploring different country prevention systems. Angelina Brotherhood highlighted that research has only begun in recent years to explore the differences between country prevention systems, and which elements of such systems are best suited to support high quality in drug prevention. Following this introduction, systems in four countries were presented and discussed: Sweden, Poland, United Kingdom, and Greece. Contributions were made by Anders Eriksson from the Social Development Unit, Social Services Administration, Stockholm, Sweden; Artur Malczewski from the Polish National Bureau for Drug Prevention (NBDP); Harry Sumnall from Liverpool John Moores University; and Sotia Makaroni from PRONOI, a Greek prevention provider who was involved in the ‘case study’ activity also undertaken in EDPQS Phase II. The current and potential role of quality standards was highlighted in each presentation.
A group exercise was then undertaken in line with the EDPQS Training Pack. In groups, participants discussed mechanisms which exist in Greece to ensure the quality of preventive work, and how these mechanisms could be improved and supported using EDPQS. Participants engaged very much with this discussion, and the session ended only because the facilitator had to leave for the airport.
The Greek hosts Ioulia and Anastasios concluded the day by asking participants to devise an action plan about how to promote quality and use of quality standards in their own work, their organisation and at the national level. Feedback from the group suggested the need for training on EDPQS, but also helped to identify a group of motivated stakeholders active at the national level who could support the promotion and application of EDPQS in Greece.
It was interesting for the EDPQS Project Partners to meet members of the Greek prevention community and to experience the enthusiasm for high quality prevention displayed by the group. Likewise, participants enjoyed meeting in person the authors of the EDPQS, as well as being able to network with their colleagues from other parts in Greece and to discuss how the quality of prevention can be further promoted and developed in this country. This was a perfect example for the kind of exchange and advocacy at national level which the EDPQS project hopes to set in motion.