Participation - finding out what difference it makes

What is evidence of success?

Different views of success

We are expected to look for evidence of what works well and to use this. This is called evidence-based practice. ‘That’s how we’ve always done it’ is not good enough; we should know what evidence there is to support what we are doing. However, there are a lot of things we do not have much evidence of, and most situations are very complicated, so the evidence is not simple. Taking the following everyday example of a house extension, what might be the evidence that it was successful?

From this example we can see that evidence of success needs to take account of many different views. Also, an opinion might change depending on when it is asked for. During the building of the house extension you might feel positive because the builders are involving you in making decisions. Or you may feel unhappy because the builders’ work is very messy. Evidence of success is not just about what happens in the end (outcome) but it is also about how we all got there (process).

The meaning of successful participation

The answer to the question ‘how do we know whether being involved has made a difference?’ is not easy. It depends on: