When you ask for people's input into developing services, it's important to be open and honest, and to build trust. People using our services gave us a clear message when we were developing this toolkit: they need to know we're listening to what they say. Taking action as a result of people's involvement and giving feedback is the best way to demonstrate you are listening.
However, it's not always possible to act on everything people tell you, and most people will understand that. Letting participants know what is and isn't possible in advance will help to manage expectations. Always give feedback to those who took part; our 'You said, we did' tool (With instructions | Without instructions) will help you with this. Sometimes you receive feedback where it’s not possible to make changes; for people to feel listened to, it's important to let them know you have heard what they say and explain why it's not possible to take action.
Some people we talked to when developing this toolkit mentioned the importance of 'closing the feedback loop'. This means that if you've asked for people's input on a piece of work, you should tell them the outcome of their involvement. They have told us that participating in a project and then feeling that their input isn't valued is exceptionally difficult, especially when they've been invited to share their ideas and opinions.
On some occasions, due to the method you have used or the number of people who took part, it's not practical to update everyone. This is okay but be open about this from the start as it will help to maintain realistic expectations when people take part.
If you tell people from the beginning that you need their input but you won't be able to feedback to them, most people will still be willing to participate. However, it's much more difficult for people to be told or expect one thing and to experience something different.
For more information on giving feedback visit the Feedback section of the toolkit.
Will and Nikki both have lived experience of mental health problems and have participated in various involvement activities in the past. In this film, they give their accounts of when the process wasn't as successful as it could have been.
"Organisations need to learn from mistakes. Being open about things not going as planned and addressing the situation gains a lot of respect."
Place a suggestion box in a prominent place, such as the reception area, and have a monthly 'You said, we did' feedback wall. Then, anyone who's been asked to share their thoughts or contribute in some way can see the results. This also benefits people who didn't take part as they can see real change resulting from involvement.
This format is also ideal to use after influence and participation activities to show people involved what you're doing and how you're using their input. Click here to find the You said, we did template in the Feedback section of the Toolkit, you can use this to give feedback or create your own version which can be e-mailed to participants or embedded within a webpage.