Purpose: Falls are common in older adults and are associated with injuries and serious ongoing problems. This paper aims to present a participatory evaluation of a Falls Awareness Programme implemented in South Wales for older adults living in sheltered housing schemes or in the community. It identifies methodological issues and provides recommendations for evaluation design and methods for community-based interventions in the future. Design/methodology/approach: A mixed-methods study combining a non-experimental pretest–posttest design with face-to-face focus groups. Findings: Concerns about falling and self-reported general health at baseline were worse for participants living in sheltered housing schemes, compared to participants in the community. There was no statistically significant change between baseline and follow-up in general health or concerns about falling; however, the data suggesting the programme may be more effective for people in sheltered housing schemes. Participants reported making small, but sustainable behaviour changes following the programme and described unexpected outcomes from the programme, e.g. socialising and meeting new people. Originality/value: This paper demonstrates the benefit of engaging older adults in research using a participatory approach, highlights key components of community-based interventions for older people and identifies some methodological issues when conducting evaluations in the community. Specifically, it highlights the importance of selecting appropriate measurement tools for data collection and the utility of continuous monitoring where programme participation is flexible and fluid.