Mrs Frei, you are at the head of Suisse Balance since 2009 and are currently funding 9 projects in the area of physical activity and nutrition. How is quality an issue in your job?
We assure and develop quality on a daily basis, both on the conceptual and content level. For example, when we examine funding applications for projects we apply criteria regarding the project’s suitability and quality. These sets of criteria are regularly reviewed and updated so that they are in line with current scientific knowledge. We also make sure that applicants are aware of lessons learned from ongoing and previous projects, so that these insights are incorporated early in the application process and reflected in the planning and management of any new project.
What does Suisse Balance actually do to ensure both the quality and the quality development of its projects?
Last year, we started to use an on-line tool for project applications and reports. It is based on quint-essenz and was specially adapted for the needs of the Suisse Balance programme. Project managers receive help and guidance in project management and practical support with the on-line tool. We aim at the best possible quality for projects by seeking active communication with project managers from the very beginning. We also try to use the outcome model of Health Promotion Switzerland. It is a useful tool for positioning, planning, managing and evaluating the various projects. Suisse Balance provides project leaders with the possibility of seeking a professional, external evaluation consultancy.
What do you consider your biggest current challenges in the implementation of health promotion projects?
For me, a major challenge is still to reach certain vulnerable groups such as socially disadvantaged children and young people and their parents. Another challenge is the complexity of the topic as mentioned in this editorial article and the resulting difficulty in providing proof for effectiveness. Another difficulty is the sustainable integration of successful examples in existing structures.
Other challenges are to keep an overview of the many projects on nutrition and physical activity taking place in Switzerland, to position ourselves in the field and to identify and support good quality projects that merit being implemented more widely.
Looking back on your time with Suisse Balance – apart from using criteria for quality such as the ones developed by quint-essenz, what other elements contribute, in your opinion, to the quality of projects?
Due recognition for individuals’ outstanding commitment as well as exchange, networking and cooperation!
You have been using the quint-essenz platform for several years - where do you see the benefits for your work?
On a personal level, quint-essenz helps me to acquire or improve my knowledge of project management and quality development in health promotion and prevention. It also provides the basis for our outcome management, sets the standard for our quality criteria, was the blueprint for the Suisse Balance on-line tool and is a practical tool with many useful documents and templates.