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Towards appreciative inquiry

26 June 2019

North Lincolnshire Safeguarding Adults BoardHelen Rose, North Lincolnshire Safeguarding Adults Board

At North Lincolnshire, we commissioned Research in Practice for Adults to work with us on a journey towards a culture of celebrating success and appreciative inquiry. As part of this journey we have discovered key elements of good safeguarding and things that are important to people who use services.

At North Lincolnshire Safeguarding Adults Board (SAB) we aim to ensure effective coordination of services to safeguard and promote the welfare of local adults who may be at risk of abuse and harm. We decided we would like to move towards an organisational culture of recognising and celebrating success, by means of ‘appreciative inquiry’.

Appreciative inquiry is a method to help you analyse situations, make decisions and formulate action plans for change. An appreciative inquiry approach works through four stages:

  • Discovery – appreciating the best of what is.
  • Dreaming – imagining how good it could be.
  • Designing – determining ‘what should be’.
  • Delivering – creating ‘what will be’.

At North Lincolnshire, we commissioned Research in Practice for Adults (RiPfA) to work with us on this journey towards a culture of celebrating success and appreciative inquiry. RiPfA can provide development and implementation support to help embed evidence-informed approaches in the design, delivery and evaluation of services. They also provide a number of relevant learning resources and training opportunities to support individual practice.  

What did we find from case studies?

Partner agencies were encouraged by the SAB to put forward case study examples of where things have gone well in safeguarding practice and in wider health and social care, in which 16 case studies were gathered from a range of board partners, including from service users and carers, practitioners, providers and statutory services. From these case studies we began to build learning from positive practice examples.

The case studies highlighted key elements of good safeguarding, including:

  • The importance of good planning.
  • Careful pacing and relationship building.
  • Keeping the person at the centre.
  • Joint working and commitment by all agencies to working together.
  • Listening to individual stories to find out what people value from support.
  • The value of providing time for learning and sharing good practice
  • Learning from success.
  • Good communication and sharing information.
  • Working positively together.

Things that are important to people who use servicesincluded:

  • Being part of a community and maintaining a social network.
  • Giving back to others and feeling useful.
  • Control over daily life.
  • The value of the workforce.
  • Having accessible information.

North Lincolnshire Safeguarding Adults Board Conference 2018

North Lincolnshire Safeguarding Adults Board Conference 2018  

'If I had a magic wand, how would I improve safeguarding?' illustration by Joe Cooper for North Lincolnshire SAB conference.

The Safeguarding Adults Board conference in October featured presentations on social work with adults to support safeguarding practice, learning from Safeguarding Adults Reviews, and supporting people with a learning disability to lead long and healthy lives. The SAB also showcased a well-received video about ‘seriously good safeguarding’.

In afternoon workshops, we asked inspirational questions based on the themes above – thinking about how good safeguarding practice could be further developed. Delegates were also asked to fill out a comment card which asked the question: 'If I had a magic wand, how would I improve safeguarding?'. The picture below shows the comments made.

North Lincolnshire Safeguarding Adults Board 

Following the conference a report was produced and the SAB are now working with partners to embed an appreciative inquiry approach across the local system.

Next steps

The SAB are now thinking about:

  • Making sure staff have protected time to plan properly with people and build positive relationships.
  • Ensuring that the person’s voice is at the centre of discussions.
  • Supporting the sharing of good practice within and across agencies and teams, including sharing individuals’ stories where they are happy to.
  • Supporting people to take positive risks.
  • Using empowering and strengths-based practice with staff as well as with people who use services.
  • Strengthening community networks and reducing social isolation.

We are looking forward to embedding new ways of working and evaluating the results.


About the author

Helen Rose works for the North Lincolnshire Safeguarding Adults Board.

To find out more about the work of the North Lincolnshire SAB, contact safeguardingadultsboard@northlincs.gov.uk.


Related Research in Practice for Adults resources

Appreciative Inquiry in Safeguarding Adults: Practice Tool

Ensuring effective training for Safeguarding Adults Boards (SABs): Strategic Briefing

Involving people in safeguarding adults: Leaders' Briefing

Safeguarding in light of the Care Act: Leaders' Briefing

What is safeguarding adults? Brief Guide

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