Sara Ulla has extended experience in research and evaluation in academia and in the public administration. Currently she holds the position of Coordinator of studies at the Institute for the Elderly and Social Services (Imserso), where she coordinates research and evaluation activities and she is responsible for international relations.
Previously she worked at the Cabinet of the Health Minister as Advisor for International Relations and Strategic Planning. She also held the position of Head of the Evaluation Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, managing the strategic evaluations of the Spanish Cooperation for Development. Before she was Head of Unit in the National Agency of Public Policies Evaluation, being responsible for the design of a new strategic planning framework and codirecting an expert course in evaluation. And she was Associate Professor at the Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, at the Psychology Department, being specialized in Health Psychology and Research Methods. She has participated in, directed and managed numerous evaluation and research works.
She has been the representative of Spain at the Steering Committee of the European Observatory for Public Policies and Services (WHO); at the Evaluation network of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (EVALNET); at the Steering Committee of the OECD Multilateral Organizations Assessment Network (MOPAN); among others.
She has PhD in Psychology and holds two Masters Degrees in Research Methods and in Applied Statistics. She is author or co-author of 4 books and she has written numerous papers in national and international research journals.
Evaluation and age-friendly communities: Opportunities and challenges to grow together
Sara Ulla Díez, Institute for the Elderly and Social Services (IMSERSO), Spain
Evaluation is the systematic and objective assessment of an on-going or completed project, programme or policy, its design, implementation and results (OECD, 2010). Evaluation is based on the methodology and techniques of social and economic research and has a clear applied purpose as a management tool for improvement, accountability and learning.
In recent years, there have been very important movements and initiatives, local, national and international, towards a radical and substantive change in the approach to ageing. This involves areas such as public policies, the concept and social perception of ageing and aged people, the type of care, the level of participation of aged-people in society, and their room for decision over their own lives and the care that they receive if needed.
Also in the last decades, governments have become increasingly aware and committed to use evidence to inform public policy; but it is still far from being a general practice. We have the opportunity to build better societies for everyone and, in particular, for old people. We should use all the tools available to do it right, but also quickly, effectively and efficiently.
The increase of age-friendly cities and communities all over the world has an excellent opportunity to mainstream the practice of monitoring and evaluation; and the rapidly growing possibilities to connect and share information provides great possibilities for knowledge management.
At the same time there are big challenges in its institutionalization; the fact that this policy, by definition, has a local focus makes the information very fragmented, very diverse, and it is very difficult to have specialized technical personnel, specific financial resources for evaluation or a clear managing impulse.
The objective of this work will be to address the need to evaluate a social policy that has the capacity to change the quality of life of more than 20% of the population in many countries. Questions like why, what or how to evaluate as well as the real opportunities and challenges have to be addressed to have a realistic and actionable approach to the practice of evaluation. Some initiatives of evaluations and assessments at the local level, and at the national level, as well as joint analysis as a tool for knowledge management will be presented.