Feasibility and acceptability of a volunteer peer fidelity assessment model in early psychosis intervention programmes in Ontario: Results from a pilot study
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AIM: Fidelity monitoring can support high-quality service delivery but is resource-intensive to implement. A fidelity assessment model utilizing volunteer assessors was trialled as a low-cost strategy for conducting fidelity assessments. This article reports on the acceptability and feasibility of this model. METHODS: Twenty volunteer assessors were trained to conduct fidelity assessments in nine Early Psychosis Intervention programmes across Ontario, Canada. Assessments were conducted using the First-Episode Psychosis Services Fidelity Scale based on a 2-day site visit, during which assessors interviewed staff, clients and families; reviewed charts; observed a team meeting and reviewed programme materials. The model was evaluated based on assessor focus groups, programme interviews, consensus meeting data and time-tracking logs. General inductive analysis was used to code and synthesize qualitative data. Quantitative data were aggregated and summarized. RESULTS: Participant feedback was positive and indicated that use of peer assessors and the in-person site visit added value to the process. The model was perceived to provide valuable information to support internal quality improvement efforts. Assessors reported direct benefits from participating, including networking and learning opportunities. Key challenges were the high time demand on assessors and turnover in the assessor team. CONCLUSIONS: The volunteer peer fidelity model was perceived to be a valuable improvement process by participants, but the high cost and reliance on ongoing volunteerism makes its sustainability uncertain. Next steps may include exploring remote assessment strategies or direct payments, although these strategies risk reducing the acceptability, and therefore uptake, of the assessment.
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