Implications for practice of using a strengths-based approach
The strengths-based approach will in many places result in a cultural shift, with the local authority focusing on the person’s strengths and abilities. It means thinking positively about people who need care and support as well as engaging with the community to reduce isolation and draw those with care and support needs further into community networks. The strengths-based approach is about reducing dependency and challenging ‘prescription culture’. Crucially, it is about protecting and promoting the person’s independence, resilience, choice and wellbeing.
The Care Act requires local authorities to have a strengths-based approach throughout the user’s journey and enshrined within all interventions/interactions with individuals. Here are some of the implications for practice.
- Practitioners need to have greater knowledge and awareness of community resources and social capital, particularly within the area in which they work. Managers should allow time for practitioners to research and gain this knowledge.
- Practitioners must prepare assessments thoroughly. Time for preparation of assessment should be taken into account for performance purposes and definition of workloads. Other changes in assessment methods (e.g. supported self-assessment, third-party assessment and improved prevention) should provide opportunities to regain time.
- Assessment should be a collaborative process of gathering information through a conversation drawn from open questions with the individual.
- Assessments should be outcome-based and not output-based – i.e. they are about what needs to change rather than what someone needs to do.
- Senior management, middle management and practitioners will have to make adjustments and allowances to accommodate strengths-based practice. The key implications of this will be:
- assessments (including preparation and closure) could take longer
- accountability and decision-making are delegated to frontline staff, following a competency-based approach to ensure staff are confident and competent to work in this way
- monitoring and review, and therefore performance measures, should focus on the impact of interventions in improving/changing outcomes for individuals
- the need to establish where the process can be streamlined to free up time (e.g. identifying process bottlenecks such as mandatory sign-off or unproductive handovers; offering supported self-assessment and planning for those who do not need local authority intervention; making better use of partners as trusted assessors).