Data collection to prove our worth

A challenge of our laundries is proving its impact on the people who use it. Until now we’ve been measuring the number of cycles and using assumptions made by clinic staff about the positive benefits of our project. We want to prove the impact of our laundries, and the only way to do that is through better data collection.

In mid-November we have a new laundry opening in Darwin (yay!) where we’ll trial new data collection methods. Designed to service the local Aboriginal communities as well as the homeless community and support services who work with people who are long-grassing or living rough, our Darwin laundry will be an ideal spot to trial methods for collecting and analysing data.

Membership cards

The Darwin laundry will operate on a membership system where users will be issued plastic cards with a unique member number. Every time a member comes to the laundry the attendant will type in their member number which will automate all services free of charge (non-members will need to pay).

“Our fully-automated system allows us to monitor cycles in real time and pull reports for specific time periods,” explains Remote Laundries Project Officer Brittany Ciupka. “In the past we’ve used this system to track the total number of cycles. Now we can also track the frequency of individual use.”

Unique membership numbers will provide important data on how often individuals are using the laundry, and whether they are repeat users. This will provide us a more accurate measure of how many people are benefitting from the laundry.

Our unique coded membership card

Survey for members

Another data collection tool to be trialled in the Darwin laundry is adding a survey at the point of sale. Obviously if members aren’t paying its not strictly a point of sale, but you get the idea.

The survey questions will be asked to all members and contain questions such as:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • What is being washed
  • Who owns items being washed

These questions will provide important information on washing culture and help to further define the needs of the demographics served.

Data collection is valuable

Being able to prove the impact of our laundries will strengthen our funding applications and sponsorship bids.

“We can see the great impact our pilot project has had in the Barunga community,” Brittany said. “However, we need to be able to demonstrate this with facts and figures.”

Remote Laundries Project relies on corporate sponsorships, grants, and individual donations in order to build and operate laundry units. Having accurate data on the number of people who benefit from the project, as well as the health implications, helps Remote Laundries Project stand out and gain more support.

“Stating the number of washes is a really good starting point, but this new method of data collection will take it one step further.”

Darwin is a good place to start

Our data collection methods are still in an early stage and being able to test them in Darwin is going to beneficial in getting them right. We’ll be able to accurately test things like membership cards and surveys because the laundry unit is next to the AIG office. Good monitoring and support will be vital to get our data collection tools right.

“The plan is to build these data collection methods into the laundry model as they are rolled out in other communities and will be a part of the training for all laundries wherever they are” said Brittany. “The Darwin site will guide us in ensuring our tools are effective and that we are asking the right questions.”