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The development of the Outcomes Star: a participatory approach to assessment and outcome measurement

Joy MacKeith (Co‐director of Triangle Consulting Social Enterprise, Brighton, UK)

Housing, Care and Support

ISSN: 1460-8790

Article publication date: 15 August 2011




This paper seeks to describe the development process for the Outcomes Stars as a suite of tools which are designed to simultaneously measure and support change when working with vulnerable people as service users. It describes the original process of development of the first Star, in homelessness services in the UK, and subsequent roll out to other client groups and in other countries. The paper indicates the theoretical and philosophical under‐pinning of an approach which aims to embody both research and values‐based practice in empowerment and respect for the individual.


As a case study of development by the development team, the paper is based on first‐hand knowledge but builds upon extensive consultations with practitioners and users and relates these to the needs and strengths of service users, the contemporary policy framework, and wider research in the field.


The Outcomes Star draws on the core principles of Action Research and Participatory Action Research and extends them beyond research into assessment and outcome measurement. As yet there has been no formal research on the usefulness of the Star approach; but, there is a rapid take up of this approach within the UK and further afield. The paper argues that the approach has proved popular, because the Outcomes Star is rooted in a philosophy that is more in tune with that of people delivering services and more closely reflects the reality of those receiving services, compared to traditional measurement techniques.

Practical implications

The paper aims to stimulate further thought and effective practice in measuring outcomes for vulnerable people, and on the most useful means to engage and support people in the co‐production of their own futures.


Although the development and take‐up of the Outcomes Star approach has been rapid in practice, this is the first paper in which these more theoretical and philosophical roots have been outlined and explored in such depth. It will be of use to service providers, to deepen their awareness, and to commissioners, policy makers and regulatory bodies wishing to promote practical approaches to quality assurance of evidence‐based and evidence‐generating practice. It will also be of interest to moral philosophers and others wishing to understand the translation of values into social practice.



MacKeith, J. (2011), "The development of the Outcomes Star: a participatory approach to assessment and outcome measurement", Housing, Care and Support, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 98-106.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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