Understanding the impact of interventions to improve the lives of critically ill children with Make-A-Wish

Asian mother and her preteen kids having fun while doing house chores together

Since its inception in Singapore in 2002, Make-A-Wish has granted wishes to over 1,600 critically ill children in the form of unique experiences or items of value chosen by the child. In addition to the immediate impact on children and their families, Make-A-Wish Singapore wanted to understand the long-term effects of wishes on the physical and socioemotional well-being of children.

CEI partnered with Research for Impact to evaluate wish-granting activities and provide recommendations for program improvement. The mixed-methods evaluation found that wish recipients and their families felt that both the Wish Journey (wish selection and anticipation) and the Wishes had had a positive impact on their lives, particularly on their emotional well-being. Make-A-Wish staff and volunteers also highlighted the positive benefits of their work, particularly when working with recipients to build anticipation during the Wish Journey and experiencing the joy of recipients the day their wishes were granted.

Our evaluation provided several strategies that could further expand the impact of Make-A-Wish. These included finding creative ways to prolong the engagement of wish recipients with Make-A-Wish and increasing awareness of Make-A-Wish Singapore, particularly among the healthcare community, in order that more children can benefit from wish-granting.

CEI and Research for Impact are continuing to work with Make-A-Wish Singapore to identify further strategies for program enhancement. With information gleaned from this evaluation, the organisation is better placed to ensure a more positive Wish Journey for recipients and their families, as well as a more impactful overall experience from the Wish itself.

The mixed-methods evaluation included both qualitative (interviews, focus group discussions) and quantitative (survey) approaches. To provide a holistic perspective on the Make-A-Wish program, the evaluation included past recipients (children between the ages of 6 and 20 years), parents and caregivers, staff and volunteers from Make-A-Wish Singapore, healthcare providers who referred children to Make-A-Wish Singapore, and other community stakeholders involved in supporting children with critical illness.