This study is an evaluation of a project in Finland that aimed to promote the participation of informal caregivers in the hospital care of elderly patients. The staff who worked in the wards that were studied built up activation programmes for informal caregivers, and changed ward policies to encourage caregivers’ participation. To explore changes in caregivers’ participation in the study and the control wards, non-equivalent control groups were used. During periods of two months in 1991, 1992 and 1993, the data were collected from informal caregivers (N = 369) using a structured questionnaire. The results indicated that total participation of informal caregivers in daily activities increased in long-term care settings, but not in the university hospital. However, a small increase in informal caregivers’ participation in some daily activities of elderly patients took place in the study wards of each setting. The findings and implications for nursing are discussed.