Health and Social Care

Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Approach to Change in the Nithsdale Locality

December 7, 2015 by No Comments | Category Workshop

What’s your analogy for the way we want to see services working as a result of health and social care integration? Maybe it’s like a central heating system with an integrated thermostat that people can turn up or down depending on their need and control through the their remote Self Directed Support app? Maybe it’s a Christmas selection box where people can choose what they want from a range of options? Or maybe it’s a hub and spoke….

These were the positive visions for integrated teams and wrap around care that a group of health, social care and third sector staff in the Nithsdale locality (in Dumfries and Galloway) came up with during a recent Appreciative Inquiry workshop.Over the past year a small team from NHS Education for Scotland (NES) and the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) have been working with different partnerships across Scotland, using Appreciative Inquiry as a way of co-creating opportunities for workers across health and social care to be more directly involved in the planning and improvement of services.

Appreciative Inquiry is a model of action research. We decide an area of practice we want to influence and change. By focusing on what is working well already, we then visualise what this area of practice will look like when it is ‘at its best’ and commit to and test actions that move us towards this. In this work it has been important that people working across all aspects of health and social care have been involved. It is important that different perspectives are heard; it also gives a better opportunity to build relationships and a shared understanding of everybody’s contribution.

In Mid / Upper Nithsdale we agreed to focus on working as integrated teams, communication, early intervention and wrap around care. We don’t have much time in each session and recognise that everyone in the room has taken time out from busy schedules to be involved.

We found that by using positive questions and being more focused on how we listen to each other, we came up with ideas and solutions that we weren’t expecting. It is hard work, challenging at times but from it we have agreed clear actions to take away and test ahead of our next session in February. We learn a lot from each other and value each others’ contribution. It has definitely been an energising experience, we sense we can make change happen and are looking forward to coming back and sharing the stories from our tests of change. As somebody said at the end of our session:

‘Look how far we’ve come…a little bit of planning and two two and a half hour workshops. We wouldn’t have arrived at the place we are in now even if we had had six or seven traditional meetings!’

If you want to know more or would be interested in using Appreciative Inquiry within your partnership, please get in touch with:

Ali Upton, SSSC –

Audrey Taylor, NHS NES –


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