Participation - finding out what difference it makes
Published September 2007
About this guide
Who is the guide for?
This guide is written for any individual, group or organisation wishing to find out whether service user and carer participation is making a difference.
Participation and evaluation
There are many ways of being involved in social care:
- as someone who uses services
- as someone who cares for a service user
- as a worker
- as a manager
- as a researcher
- as a policy maker.
Social care might be provided by service users and carers, by volunteers or workers, or a combination of these. The services might be provided in the state, charitable or private sectors. Social care is a big part of our lives and, like health and education, it is something that everybody is likely to have some contact with during their lives. In recent years the people who use services and their carers have had a greater say.
This service user and carer participation is meant to improve services by listening to what people want and by acting on this information. In some cases, service users are now organising their own services too. Most people think that participation is a good thing, but:
- how do we know whether participation makes a real difference?
- what are the costs and what are the benefits?
- what are the best ways to find out whether participation is making a difference?
- what can we learn from the way that other people have done this?
This guide has been written to help answer these questions. It is based on research to discover what is already known about the evaluation of participation.