Strength-based working and Multiple Complex Needs

During the spring of 2021, a study between Fulfilling Lives South East and the University of Brighton was conducted. With the client-facing work coming to an end for the project in June 2021, this study aimed to evaluate the use of strengths-based approaches FLSE and BHT Sussex staff employ, when supporting individuals experiencing MCN. This work drew together interviews with key workers and relevant literature to highlight the benefits and issues raised in a strengths-based practice.


A strengths-based practice is one that takes into account each person’s strengths and resources, abilities and skills, and, with the help of the practitioner, helps utilise them towards the attainment of personal goals (Rapp et al., 2005).

Good Practice

  • Strengths-based practice is not to just be nice or positive all the time, neither imposing a list of tasks on individuals, without them having a say in the process.
  • Instead, strengths-based practice is collaborative, with the practitioner acting as a facilitator for the recognition of skills and goals; it is trauma-informed, acknowledging not only the adversities someone has faced, but also the strategies they employed to survive; and it is based on a hope-inducing, honest, open-minded relationship between the practitioner and the service user.

Impact

  • On service users: it helps create a different narrative for themselves and their life, one with strengths, skills, and capabilities, instead of only problems and deficits.
  • On workers: reflecting on service user’s positive attributes, boosts practitioners’ resilience, can protect from burn-out, and improves their work.
  • On other services: with more positive narratives on their hands and training on strengths-based practice, this new approach  has only started to be embraced.

Challenges

  • Service users might at first have a hard time thinking in a positive light about themselves and reflecting on their strengths and capabilities.
  • Frontline staff need to have small caseloads and a lot of time on their hands, to build on a trusting relationship, which is rarely the case the way services are commissioned.
  • There is huge lack of knowledge and training in other services, as well as a lack for “one-stop-shops”, which will treat individuals holistically.

This study will hopefully be one of the first steps in providing evidence for the benefits of strengths-based practice, so it will be widely embraced and employed in all sectors, but, of course, further research and training is needed for it to be established.

My experience with Fulfilling Lives has definitely convinced me: Strengths-based practice is a way of seeing other people and ourselves, and I believe it should be taken up by any professional who wants to do good in their line of work – I know I will.

Read the full report: here.


Author: Dora Soulantika

If you would like to hear more about our work in healthcare, then please do get in contact with Michaela and Rebecca in the FL team:

Michaela Rossmann, Systems Change Officer: michaela.rossmann@sefulfillinglives.org.uk

Rebecca Rieley, Systems Change Lead: rebecca.rieley@sefulfillinglives.org.uk

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