This article presents practice tips from Community Care Inform Adults’ guide on strengths-based questions. The full guide provides strengths-based ideas for moving beyond simply completing an assessment form and suggests questions and strategies for engaging people so that you can build an understanding of their life, strengths and goals. Inform Adults subscribers can access the full content here.
The guide is written by Mel Gray and Leanne Schubert from the University of Newcastle, Australia.
Assessments under the Care Act 2014, in England, or Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, aim to enable individuals to express their wishes and preferences regarding their care. Taking a strengths-based approach invites practitioners to put the assessment form away and engage the person in a conversation about more than just the problems they face.
Building a collaborative relationship is key in strengths-based practice. This requires practitioners to step away from holding themselves as the authority and to view the individual being assessed as the expert in their own life and experience.
To keep assessment and eligibility processes strengths-focused, try to:
- Shift from discussing problems to exploring possibilities and solutions.
- Reframe a negative experience in a positive light.
- Encourage the person to take the lead in identifying their needs and desired outcomes.
- Check and confirm whether the person wants the involvement of the local authority.
- Prompt the person to ensure all their needs have been identified.
- Ask about day-to-day outcomes like dressing, maintaining personal relationships, going out into the community and, where relevant, working.
- Be clear about eligibility requirements. Emphasise the idea that people’s needs are often best met by combining complementary resources.
- Write any notes or reports and record decisions you make in the knowledge that you are required to share these with the person. Consider what it would be like to read them.
- Facilitate active involvement in decision making.
- Use open-ended questions that allow the person to describe their situation without you making assumptions regarding deficits.
While a strengths-based approach is consistent with the outcome-based assessments required under the Care Act and Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act, it does not provide all the answers. It must be used in tandem with critical theories and approaches to build a better understanding of situations, discover ways forward and help other possibilities emerge.
If you have a Community Care Inform Adults licence, log in to access the full guide and read more strengths-based ideas for moving beyond completion of an assessment form as well as suggested questions and strategies for engagement.