Implementation in action

A guide to implementing evidence-informed programs and practices
Guidelines – June 2019

1. Introduction

1.1 What is the purpose of this guide?

Implementation is both a science and an art. It's the active process of integrating evidence-informed programs and practices in the real world (Rabin & Brownson, 2018). Implementation focuses on 'how' a program or practice will fit into and improve a service (Burke, Morris, & McGarrigle, 2012).

We've written this guide to help you implement evidence-informed programs and practices in the child and family service sector. We encourage you to use it in conjunction with the recommended tools and resources highlighted throughout the guide.

We developed this guide using best-practice recommendations from implementation science. It uses a staged implementation process to guide your implementation activities (Metz & Bartley, 2012; Metz et al., 2015). The guide outlines all stages and steps briefly, and provides links to useful online resources.

Our guide aims to:

  • increase awareness about implementation science
  • explain how high-quality implementation works
  • explain why implementation science is important
  • equip agencies and service providers to use implementation strategies
  • explain how to adapt program or practice implementation strategies for different contexts
  • explain how to monitor and measure implementation outcomes
  • share useful tools and resources.

It also helps you to:

  • explore different types of evidence-informed programs and practices
  • decide if you're ready to implement a program or practice
  • identify implementation enablers and barriers
  • identify and use implementation strategies
  • initiate and refine your implementation process
  • sustain and scale-up programs and practices.

1.2 Who is this guide for?

We wrote this guide for child and family service agencies, and their staff. It is relevant for both large and small implementation initiatives.

Our guide may help:

  • agencies and service providers that are planning to implement a new program or practice
  • agencies and service providers that would like to refine or sustain an existing program or practice
  • staff with varying levels of experience, including frontline practitioners; their team leaders and managers; senior leaders in the organisations; and those who design or develop programs in the child and family service setting.

1.3 How should I use this guide?

You can use this guide to help you adopt, plan, initiate and maintain an evidence-informed program or practice in the child and family services sector.

The guide has different sections explaining the different stages of implementation. Depending on where you're at in your implementation process, it may not make sense for you to follow the process exactly as outlined in this guide. You can 'dip in' to the different sections of the guide based on what information you need. However, if your agency or service provider is new to implementation science - or has limited experience implementing evidence-informed programs or practices - you'll probably benefit from reading the whole guide.