Assessing Context, Learning from Leaders, and Changing the Rules: Implementation Support during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Allison Metz, Katie Burke

While activities related to assessing need and context are often framed as an exploration or early stage activity, stakeholders in public systems and community partners describe the need to assess context beyond these early stages of implementation. We recognize that context is ever changing, and implementation support must be responsive to the shifting needs and strengths of communities.

In a conversation with Katie Burke, Senior Manager of Centre for Effective Services in Ireland, we talk about how assessing need and context is critical in a time of crisis.  We strive to:

  • meet communities and public systems where they are,
  • support mitigating actions that can help service systems manage risk while performing mission critical work, and
  • respond to changes in the system that affect implementation.

Katie shared how staff at the Centre for Effective Services are currently supporting the Irish Health Service Executive (the national health and social care service) to roll out COVID-19 testing centers and implement community assessment centers related to the pandemic in their clinical roles. As Katie notes, “service systems don’t want to hear about planning…they don’t want to hear about capacity building….they need help doing.” Professionals providing implementation support need to adapt quickly in order to respond to crisis-driven needs in service systems.

In our conversation, we also discussed the critical role we have in cultivating leadership. Katie noted that examples of leaders are emerging from all directions.  We see people stepping up to lead, and developing leaders are empowered in this crisis to make change happen. The context of the crisis has removed some of the barriers leaders may experience day-to-day as they try to support change. This is a reminder, though, that as we provide implementation support during this crisis and beyond, our role is to:

  • foster space for new leaders to emerge,
  • support growing leaders to share responsibilities, and
  • help leaders assess their roles and capacity within the system.

These are some of the lessons we hope to carry forward in our implementation practice. Click here to listen to more of this conversation, including a reflection on the broad range of skills and competencies implementation support practitioners need in order to be responsive to the needs of communities and service systems in a changing world.

For more information on implementation practice, including skills and competencies for assessing need and context and cultivating leaders:

Allison Metz is Director of the National Implementation Research Network, Senior Research Scientist at FPG Child Development Institute, Research Professor at the School of Social Work, and Adjunct Professor at the School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Katie Burke is Senior Manager at Centre for Effective Services (CES) and oversees much of CES’s work supporting policy makers in Ireland.

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Lived experience. Academic rigor. Professional triumph.

Some of the world’s most successful speakers, leaders, and coaches rely on just one of these credentials in their work. Lacy Dicharry combines all three to deliver empowerment and actionable insight to every audience she reaches.

A survivor of childhood trauma and the trials of the foster care system, Lacy’s story of personal strength and resilience began at a young age. Resulting battles with mental health and addiction were to follow. To some, a story of perseverance. For Lacy, a journey to becoming the person she was meant to be.

Lacy has earned designation as a Master of Business Administration, a dual Master of Science in both Counseling Psychology and Leadership and Human Resource Development and is actively completing her PhD in Philosophy, Leadership and Human Resource Development. Her research centers on the same objective that forms the foundation of her career as both a speaker and workforce champion: revolutionizing leadership.

Lacy’s approach to leadership development fosters an environment where culture and collaboration flourish, creating a workplace where every voice is represented. She has been instrumental in transforming corporate environments, youth engagement efforts, and advocacy programs. She has worked across the U.S. and internationally in a variety of high profile roles, bringing innovative solutions to high stakes challenges.

In concepts including transformational leadership and healing-centered leaders, Lacy Dicharry lives to empower others to transform the way they live, the way they lead, and the world around them.

Lacy has dedicated her life to becoming a force for positive change in organizations around the world. Lacy is a fearlessly authentic leader, speaker, and individual. By sharing her challenges, her experiences, and her transformation with the world, Lacy connects with her audiences in a way nobody else does, because she brings to her work what nobody else can.

Marita Brack is the Associate Director for Psychology within NHS Education for Scotland, and has worked as a Clinical Psychologist for 25 years. Her clinical work has principally been within specialist mental health services for children, young people and their families, both in Scotland and Australia. Marita has also worked within university settings in relation to the training of Applied Psychologists, and was the Clinical Practice Director on the MSc in Applied Psychology for Children and Young People, delivered in partnership between the NHS and the University of Edinburgh. Marita joined NES in 2010 as the Head of Programme for the Parenting and Infant Mental Health workstream, within the Psychology Directorate, and through this role has led on the development and implementation of several strands of work, including the Psychology of Parenting Project (PoPP), the NES Infant Mental Health training plan, the Early Intervention Framework, and most recently Marita has been co-leading on the implementation of the Enhanced Psychological Practice-Children and Young People certificate level course that has been created within NES. Marita has a long-standing interest in early intervention and prevention approaches to strengthening mental health and wellbeing, evidence-based parent-child relationship interventions and public health. 

Category A – The UNC School of Social Work is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The UNC School of Social Work maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

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