CfL Implementation Strategies and Structures - Survey (Dec 2018)

Connecting for Life Implementation Strategies and Structures

Findings of a Survey - December 2018

This paper identifies key evidence-informed implementation strategies used (by the HSE) to drive CfL. It also summarises the findings from a survey of stakeholders involved in national CfL implementation structures.


Implementing Connecting for Life (CfL) Ireland’s national strategy to reduce deaths by suicide and self-harm (2015-2020) is a complex process, as it is a cross-cutting, whole of society strategy which requires consistent coordination and communication between relevant stakeholders. There is often a substantial gap between a strategy’s design and its execution. Enormous amounts of time and resources are put into strategic planning processes, yet many struggle when it comes to the implementation of a strategy. The literature indicates that a key factor in the failure to deliver upon a strategy is often down to the simple fact that implementation or the crucial work of translating strategy into an operational reality and ‘making it happen’ is not adequately considered.

In July 2018 the Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) Team in the HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP), as part of the evaluation of the implementation of CfL, set out to identity the evidence-informed implementation strategies used by the HSE (the lead agency with most strategic commitments) to drive the work, and to review national CfL implementation structures. To this end, all relevant stakeholders were invited to take part in a survey and share their reflection on their experiences to date. This document summarises the key findings from this point in time survey.

Key Points

  • The HSE is the lead agent with the most commitments under CfL. A broad range of evidence-informed implementation strategies are also being used by HSE Mental Health (and the HSE NOSP) to drive the top-down and bottom-up implementation of CfL.
  • In addition to these discrete implementation strategies, a number of implementation structures are in place that serves as a guide or framework for the implementation of CfL.
  • A crucial implementation structure is the HSE NOSP, which has responsibility for the overall implementation of the national strategy. The vast majority of stakeholders reported that they sought support and strategic guidance from the HSE NOSP, thus reinforcing the need for a high functioning office with implementation expertise.
  • The majority of stakeholders were of the opinion that the HSE NOSP has the leadership and enhanced programme management and evaluation capacity needed to implement the national strategy.
  • The CfL Cross Sectoral Steering and Implementation Group, chaired by the Department of Health and comprised of representatives from 17 CfL action lead agencies/government departments, was recognised by the majority of stakeholders as playing an instrumental role in implementing CfL.
  • The evidence suggests that stakeholders were less aware of the function, role and decision making of other (HSE) implementation structures.

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