2.3 What is monitoring?

Monitoring involves the collection of information for a specific purpose. A simple example of monitoring in daily practice is keeping a record of the sex of the children that come to a medical facility and the medical problems that they bring. This type of monitoring information can help to determine accurately whether boys and girls are equally likely to seek medical assistance, and if they have different health needs. It can also help to find out whether boys or girls are being discriminated against. That information can then be used to plan services and ensure the right training and facilities are in place.

Monitoring is a process involving observation of something at regular intervals, such as weekly, monthly or quarterly. It involves gathering information. It can be used to assess the quality of a process or service. It can also be used to measure progress towards a specific goal.

Effective monitoring can help us to:

  • Gather useful information from the routine tasks and activities that we carry out each day.
  • Measure changes in services and experiences of individuals over a period of time.
  • Assess whether resources are being used effectively or as we planned.

Monitoring is a vital part of action planning. In Study Session 1, you became familiar with making action plans and implementing them: the first two stages in the cycle shown in Figure 1.2. However, once you have put your plan into action, how do you know if it is working? If you had clear objectives and indicators for your plan it is through monitoring that you can see if they were achieved. So monitoring is a stage in a continuous process of improvement. Figure 2.1 is a reminder of the stages of this process.

Figure 2.1 The five stages of planning and implementation

2.2 Learning outcomes

Making decisions about monitoring