Supporting whole organisational approaches to strengths-based working

24 September 2019
Melika Malone-Lee

Melika Malone-Lee

The drive towards strengths-based working is an ongoing journey and one in which different local authorities are at various stages

The strengths-based approach lends itself to innovative developments in the way we work with adults with care and support needs and our local communities. It enables us to support people to build on their strengths and assets and achieve outcomes that mean something to them in the context of their own lives and communities. This is evident in the diverse ways in which different local authorities are approaching and embedding strengths-based practice in their work. 

The Strengths-based approach: Practice Framework and Practice Handbook (Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), 2019) highlights that a commitment to strengths-based practice is crucial across organisations in order to achieve this aim. The framework and handbook supports social workers and social care professionals in applying a strengths-based approach to their work with adults.

The framework is the basis for the National Strengths-Based Working Framework Pilot in which a range of local authorities across the country are involved. The work in Cheshire East Council, led by Professor Sam Baron in collaboration with Rebecca Spurrell, has shown that achieving positive results involves working in collaboration with the community and a great deal of commitment from people working across the organisation. For the strengths-based approach to be truly effective there needs to be a whole organisational approach, as outlined by Kate Kayley in a previous blog.

In recognition of this, the focus of the 2019 Link Officers' Annual Meeting (LOAM) is on how to embed strengths-based approaches across adult social care organisations. The popular annual event facilitates the sharing of knowledge with colleagues across the country. Delegates take away key messages about practice from different areas and the things that might need to be considered when taking different strengths-based approaches. 

Professor Sam Baron is one of the speakers, providing delegates with the opportunity to explore how the Strengths-based approach: Practice Framework and Practice Handbook (DHSC, 2019) can be used to support the implementation of strengths-based approaches across adult social care. 

Occupational therapists can also benefit from using a strengths-based approach. In Wiltshire Council Lisa Dibsdall, Principal Occupational Therapist, undertook a PhD which looked at the role of occupational therapists in re-ablement services commissioned by the local authority and delivered by service providers to people in the community. Lisa will talk about the first year of Wiltshire’s in-house re-ablement service, delivered as an occupational therapy led service at LOAM.

There are also talks from Sally Nieman on the insights from the implementation of strengths-based approaches in Camden – and Director of Adult Care and Health Services for Reading, and Research in Practice for Adults trustee, Seona Douglas. Seona has experience of supporting whole organisational approaches and engagement with learning and development opportunities and has several top tips for Link Officers about how to engage their Directors with Research in Practice for Adults. This includes looking at the conversations that might happen with different colleagues across adult social care organisations in order to facilitate a strengths-based approach.

There are also a range of resources available from Research in Practice for Adults including publications and Podcasts designed to support professionals working across adult social care to develop and embed strength-based practice. 

In order to implement strength-based approaches across whole organisations we need to model it in supervision and in conversations with colleagues and other organisations. By considering what we already have around us – the existing knowledge, skills, passions and experiences, it may be that those situations where we are really feeling like the glass is half-empty can be viewed differently.

Identifying the conversations that could happen with different colleagues in adult social care will facilitate a whole organisational approach to strengths-based working. 

About the author

Melika Malone-Lee is a Research and Development Officer at Research in Practice for Adults. 

Related Research in Practice for Adults events

Supporting whole organisational approaches to strengths-based working: Link Officers’ Annual Meeting

15 October, Birmingham: view details

Join us for our Link Officers’ Annual Meeting (LOAM). This popular annual event is a unique opportunity for Partners across the national network to share best practice, discuss emerging sector issues and to learn from one another. The event will also offer the opportunity for Partners to share innovative work and good practice.

Programme: Link Officers' Annual Meeting.

Designed for: Link Officers, Principal Social Workers and Principal Occupational Therapists from across the Research in Practice for Adults network.

Related Research in Practice for Adults resources

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