The Participation Tools

The tools and techniques you select will depend on whether your aim is to involve people in shaping local services or as partners in decisions about their own treatment and care.

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The Participation Toolkit provides a range of tools, guidance and resources for staff working in health and social care or the voluntary or private sectors. It is not an exhaustive list of the possibilities, but identifies some well known methods which are tried and tested, as well as some more recently developed techniques.

They can be used as appropriate not only to involve members of the public as a group, but also to involve individuals in their own care.

The participation tools can be grouped under 5 headings:

  1. Inform – giving information: exhibitions, leaflets, written documents, local press
  2. Engage – getting information: questionnaires and surveys, focus groups telephone interviews
  3. Involve/consult – ongoing engagement and dialogue
  4. Empower – partnership working or co-production
  5. Evaluate – reviewing process and outcomes to drive improvements

Some have more than one possible use. This is summarised on the matrix below.

Tool Can be used to
Inform Engage Involve/ Consult Empower Evaluate/ Improve
After Action Reviews        

Ask Me 3 and Ask 3 Questions      
Citizens' Juries
Comments Cards      
Digital Stories      
Displays and Exhibitions    
Dragons' Den    
Electronic Questionnaires    
Electronic Voting  
Emotional Touchpoints    
Focus Groups  
Graphic Facilitation      
Head, Heart, Carrier Bag and Dustbin      
Mystery Shopping      
Nominal Group Technique  
Open Space  
Patient Diaries      
Planning for Real
Presentations and Talking to Groups    
Process Mapping  
Public Meetings      
Reflective Log      
Remote Service Futures Game  
Solution Circles      
Surveys and Questionnaires      
Talking Mats  
Users' Panels  
World Café  
Written Information      


If you need support or assistance in delivering any of these techniques, please contact your local office.

Sometimes it can be helpful to use an 'ice breaker' activity to relax the atmosphere and get the discussion started.