There is no doubt that output measures are already used in the social care services, albeit in a form and with a purpose which might not readily identify them as such. A social worker writing up her case notes will invariably be attempting to record the outcomes of a placement or episode (‘There has been a marked improvement in Jimmy’s ability to cope with criticism and control from his foster parents …’), and often to relate these to particular interventive strategies and exogenous factors (‘… in part due to his establishment of a close friendship with their son and in part because the visits of his rather authoritarian natural father, which still sometimes disturb Jimmy, have become much less frequent’). Output measures of this kind are necessarily informal, impressionistic and probably incomplete, but they are certainly useful. They do not range over the full set of objectives of a care episode or intervention, they do not necessarily attempt to compare what is happening with what might have happened if some alternative action (including ‘no action’) had been taken, nor do they necessarily package it all up neatly within conveniently specific time periods.
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