Welcome to Alder Advice

Who are Alder Advice?

Alder Advice is a group of independent professionals commited to using strengths based approaches to enable improvements in the adult social care, children's social care, health and housing sectors. We all share a common value base and join together to work across Britain as specialist advisers. Our mission is to help people who need support to achieve wellbeing to live the lives that they choose and to overcome the inequalities that they, all too frequently, experience.

We are proud to promote the use of "Appreciative Inquiry" and to have developed the "Progression Approach". It is a strengths-based approach to supporting people with disabilities to live the lives they aspire to. The "Progression Approach" is best known in relation to support for learning disabled adults, but we use related approaches and the same value base to underpin our work related to supporting older people, children, and adults living with physical/sensory disabilities and living with or recovering from mental illness. For a brief introduction to the "Progression" approach - read more

Our first project was in 2009. Since then we have worked with more than 50 local authorities, the Association of Directors of Social Services (ADASS), The Social Services Improvement Agency, Welsh Local Government Association, Local Government Association (England), a number of provider organisations in the sector, 3 local authority trading companies and a number of NHS clients. We always use strengths-based approaches (Underpinned by Appreciative Inquiry) and our clients comment that this positive and collaborative approach helps them achieve transformational change that is essential to benefits realisation. For example, after working with Alder Advice Julie Bateman (Head of Service Development at Suffolk County Council) said:

"The suggestion by Alder Advice that we could both achieve greater VFM alongside improved outcomes for people was highly motivating." ... "The fact that the suggestion was backed up by hard objective external evidence as to how we could do things differently to everyone’s advantage …… was hugely persuasive." ... "Senior managers and the learning disability community signed up to a detailed action plan to develop a “Progression” model which aims to transform both service delivery and the service offer."

We undertake a broad range of projects across the whole of the UK, and have particular strengths in service evaluation, redesign and transformation projects, strategy development, commissioning, market analysis and predictive modelling. Our consortium operating model allows us to combine the expertise of outstanding experts in specialisms relevant to our clients' business and to form teams that can provide the highest standards of professional advisory and consultancy services at a competitive price.

We have a deep understanding of and extensive experience in our sector. All of our advisors have worked in practice and management roles in statutory organisations operating in this area. Many are qualified and registered social work or allied health professionals, whilst our finance professionals, and analysts are all highly experienced in health, social care or housing.

We bring extensive experience in working with people who use services, often using innovative methods for public engagement such as Open Space Technology and Appreciative Inquiry. For a brief introduction to appreciative inquiry - read more

As will be evident from our extensive client list and long track record of delivering successful projects, we offer a high standard of consulting practice. Prior to founding Alder Advice, our founding members, Rob Griffiths and Dan Short, held senior roles in major consulting practices. We have a strong commitment to working collaboratively with our clients, seeking to co-produce solutions and transfer skills where appropriate and possible.

Our customer regularly say that they welcome the strong values of our advisers and our deep understanding of the sector.




What we do

We provide support in four different forms:

Alder Advice provides consultancy, mentoring and coaching. We also provide provide and guidance and hands-on assistance to support organisations to undertake major projects using their own staff. Our mission is to improve the lives of older people and adults with disabilities and we pride ourselves on our independence, our values led approach and on using strengths based approaches. Read More.

Alder Development offers bespoke learning programmes and interim staff.

Our training activity grew from our thought leadership and expertise in professional practice. It was provided to complement our advisory work and to support transformation projects based on our models of practice and support. It has since expanded to transfer learning from Alder staff to our customer organisations, helping them to acquire the internal capacity to wor k more effectively. Read More.

Alder Interim Solutions Our staff are available to work as part of your local teams on an interim basis as we recognise that sometimes the additional capacity and expertise provided by an experienced interim manager or locum will better meet the needs of customers than the inputs from our advisers. Our interims have access to the support and expertise within the wider Alder Advice network. Read More. 

Appreciative Inquiry Training. Alder Advice collaborates with Appreciating People and other like minded independent advisers to develop and expand the use of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) to improve the effectiveness of public and 3rd sector services in UK and abroad. Specifically, we provide AI training and development opportunities and provide peer support opportunities for individuals and organisations that see the potential to use AI based approaches to improve their effectiveness. Read More.

How we work

Using a strengths based ethos

All our work is underpinned by our belief that every person/ team/ organisation has assets and strengths and that these need to be recognised and built on. This, we believe, is the key to improving the lives of older people and of adults with disabilities and is also the key to helping organisations, that exist to support older people and adults with disabilities, to be more effective and efficient.

This core belief is important as it underpins our work at all levels e.g. with individual service users, individual staff, teams and organisations.

Once we know what your strengths are we can help you build on them to deliver the improvement needed. We can also plan/agree with you how to add to or augment your skills and strengths with the skills and the knowledge of our network of advisers.

Our appreciative approach is an essential component of our values.

Joining-up skills and know how

Our advisory teams bring together a blend of skills and knowledge tailored to your specific local needs, but the strengths based values and the commitment to helping to improve the lives of older people and of adults with disabilities are always the same.

We combine financial/ analysis skills, inquiry/ investigation approaches and professional practice experience/ sector knowledge to get beneath the surface of the issues faced, and explore how feasible each of the possible available improvement opportunities is.

Our sector knowledge, passion to improve public services and deeply held values about promoting independence all help us to engage well with your staff, suppliers, customers and partner organisations.

Team work and mutual support is central to our way of working.

Working as your partner

We believe that working together is the best way to learn and grow together. We always seek to work in partnership with you.

We want you to feel we are your equal partner working towards shared goals. You should feel that we are enabling you to use your skills and that the skills and knowledge we bring is complementary.

We will always seek to identify your existing strengths so that these can underpin improvement and be built on. We will nurture your staff's skills and transfer our skills to you and we will help you to reflect and learn from your experience of working with us.

Where you have the capacity, and you want to, we will work co-productively with you, your staff and other stakeholders such as customers, suppliers and partner organisations.


Agreeing the way forward

Change only starts if the people who will implement it “own it”. Our recommendations will be:

"Appreciative" meaning they will always build on existing strengths,

"Evidence based" as we always seek evidence about what is happening now? and why? as well as sharing information about what works elsewhere with you,

Beneficial” as they will be based on a strong evidence base arising from our combining analytical, inquiry and practice skills,

Practical” as they build on existing strengths and are developed in partnership with your staff, and

Acceptable” to stakeholders as we are experienced in political environments and always discuss draft recommendations with you to pre-empt issues of acceptability.

We respect local expertise, understanding and judgement, but please expect us as your critical friend to be "constructively" challenging.

In for the long haul with you

Improvement will only be delivered if you plan how to make it happen and adequately resource the implementation process.
Key to this are having:

- Some easy to action first steps that deliver some tangible changes to prove to stakeholders that the change planned is feasible, and

- Appropriately skilled resources to carry out implementation tasks.

Alder Advice can help by planning the implementation process, providing “interim” implementation staff, and training your staff in the skills they need now/in future.

We can also help you monitor your progress and help you reflect and learn throughout the exploration, analysis and implementation processes.

We know success takes time, persistence, planning and resources.

Why choose us?

Our aim is to work closely with our customers. We seek to augment your skills and knowledge by providing you with temporary extra capacity with excellent consultancy skills and practical experience of your business. We can do this because:

  • Our advisers are all experienced senior managers and consultants with expertise in and a deep commitment to either Adult Social Care, Health or Housing so they know your business and will be credible with staff at all levels in your organisation.
  • Many of our advisers are/have been involved in national level developments e.g. by NICE, by Department of Health including Valuing People and by Social Services Improvement Agency in Wales. So the team has a deep understanding of the relevant policy drivers.
  • The teams we form to support you will normally combine experience of your business plus good analysis and other consultancy skills i.e. our findings will be based on sound analysis and evidence assessed by a practioners eye and underpinned by our strengths based and outcomes focused ethos.
  • We have experience of supporting regional and national improvement initiatives as well as invididual organisations so we will help you look outside your organisatoions as well as within it for innovative ideas and practical solutions.
  • We have an extensive client list .... so we may know what others are doing to respond to the issues you face.
    We give the highest priority to ensuring that we deliver only the highest quality of services and advice.
  • We expect every team member to take personal responsibility for the standard of their own work and for the performance of the overall project.Rob Griffiths and Dan Short, however, have overarching responsibility for quality and are accountable to our customers for the standards achieved in every part of our engagement. 
  • We will not accept any assignment that is outside the knowledge, skills and competencies of our team members. We will use only team members with proven excellence and reputation in areas relevant to the project.
  • We will not accept any assignment unless we have the capacity and team named in our proposal available for the agreed indicative timetable of the project.

In addition to ensuring our work is always of a high quality; we are also commited to:

  • Employing safe working practices,
  • Promoting equality and diversity,
  • Minimising our environmental footprint, and
  • Achieving the highest possible standards of information governence and confidentiality.  

We assure we can meet all the above commitments by setting out and strictly complying with a clear set of policies on each of these issues. You can read these poplicies by following the attached link to our compendium of policies.


Our Clients

Since we began trading in 2009 Alder Advice has worked with a wide range of health, local government and central government organisations a variety of care and support providers.

We often work with the same clients multiple times. Our client list includes:

  • ADASS Care and Health Improvement programme (CHIP)
  • Aberdeen City Council
  • Barnet LBC
  • Barnet CCG
  • Barnsley MBC
  • Bedford Council
  • Bradford Council/Bradford Children's Trust
  • Bridgend Council
  • Bristol North Somerset and South Gloucestershire STP
  • Bury Council
  • Cambridgeshire County Council
  • Caerphilly Council
  • Cardiff Council
  • Care in Hand
  • Central Bedfordshire Council
  • Cheshire West and Chester Council
  • Conwy Council
  • Croydon LBC
  • Croydon Care Solutions (LA Trading Company)
  • Cumbria County Council
  • Cwm Taf Health and Social Care Economy
  • Department of Health and Social Care
  • Essex County Council
  • NHS Grampian
  • Gwynedd Council
  • Health and Social Care Moray
  • Hertfordshire County Council
  • Hounslow LBC
  • Improvement East
  • Kent County Council
  • KeyRing
  • Kirklees Council
  • Local Government Association
  • Luton Council
  • Merton LBC
  • Moray Council
  • NHS North Central London
  • NHS England - London Region
  • Neath and Port Talbot Council
  • Northamptonshire County Council
  • North West ADASS
  • North Tyneside Council
  • North Wales Commissioning Hub
  • North Wales Regional Partnership Board
  • North West London NHS
  • Octavo Partnership Ltd 
  • Olympus Care Services (LA Trading Company)
  • Pembrokeshire County Council
  • Peterborough City Council
  • Powys County Council
  • Redbridge LBC
  • SSIA - Wales
  • Social Care Wales
  • Somerset County Council
  • Southend-on-Sea Council
  • South East ADASS
  • South Tyneside Council
  • Southwark LBC
  • South East ADASS Region
  • Swansea (City & County)
  • South West ADASS Region
  • Swindon Borough Council
  • Three Counties (Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Hywel Dda Health Board) Learning Disability Partnership
  • Thurrock Council
  • Tower Hamlets LBC
  • United Response
  • United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust
  • Vale of Glamorgan Council
  • Wellgate Supported Living Limited
  • Welsh Local Government Association
  • Western Bay Learning Disability Programme
  • West Wales Care Partnership
  • Wiltshire Council
  • Wilshire and Swindon User Network
  • Wokingham Council
  • Wolverhampton MBC
  • Yorkshire and Humberside ADASS Region
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What our
Clients Say

Commenting on our Appreciative Inquiry into strengths-based approaches at Portsmouth Rachael Roberts, Deputy Director of Adult Social Care said:

It has been a pleasure to work with Alder Advice. They were flexible and responsive and professional in their approach.  They have drawn out what is working well and also area's for development and have articulated this in a clear accessible report.

Commenting on our support for high needs complex case reassessment programmes:

Nicola Hobbs-Brake (Assistant-Director Quality and Contracting at Northamptonshire) said:

"I just wanted to say it was brilliant working with you and the Alder team. The High Needs Review project has achieved such great success for people improving their lives and I have to say it was one of my most pleasurable career moments to be involved in this , seeing not only peoples lives transform, but also the staff develop and flourish and enjoy their work under Alder's guidance - the millions we saved was a bonus!"


Commenting on our support for high needs complex case reassessment programmes Maria Faller, High Needs Project Team manager at Northamptonshire said:

Working together with various Alder employees on the High Needs project has created a radical transformation in the thinking, practice, confidence and motivation of the practitioners allocated to the team.”

“Starting from a strengths based, progression approach to the re-assessments of our most complex younger adults, supported by robust evidence, has led to significant positive outcomes. It has enabled the practitioners to become more confident to challenge poor and restrictive practices, identify how skills can be progressed albeit at an individual, and ensure value for money and financial savings.



Jonathan Lillistone (Head of Commissioning – Health & Community Services, at Southwark LBC) said:

The work Alder Advice delivered for Southwark to transform Commissioning for the 21st Century helped created a new approach to engaging with providers and stakeholders across the Council. It has helped foster a more joined up approach through closer working with colleagues in care management. Commissioners made use of some of the tools devised to analyse particular service areas, identifying key priorities for change and how a ‘burning platform’ for transformation and change could be created without destabilising the local market for social care services. Since we worked with Alder Advice significant progress has been made by the Council to move away from block contracting for social care services. This has included:

• establishing a nationally recognised ISF (Individual Service Fund) approach to residential and supported living services for people with learning disabilities, 

• establishing a personalised approach to voluntary sector day services for older people older peoples day services where older people purchase day centre sessions from their personal budget, and

• work is now well underway to personalise day opportunities for people with learning disabilities."

Simon Leftley, Director of Adult Social Services at Southend  commented on our review of day services at Southend said:

Working with Dan and Simon from Alder Advice was really helpful. Their understanding of our business really helped us validate our existing vision and to plan how to move towards it. They were particularly skilful at involving service users and carers in the evaluation process and the quality of evidence in the end report really helped decision takers make decisions, that could have been perceived as quite risky, with confidence. Mostly important we made a transformation to day services, empowering service users and carers to have a real voice and role in designing their future


Joyce Lorimer| Integrated Services Manager (Learning Disabilities/ Drug and Alcohol Services / Consultant Social Work Practitioners) | Health and Social Care Moray said:

"I woud definitely recommend Dan Short, Rob Griffiths and Alder Advice as key partners to appoint to support transformational change. Their commitment and approach is highly professional, underpinned by very sound values that matched our organisational ones of putting people who use our services at the heart of our system redesign.

They are able to offer sound analysis, underpinned by knowledge and experience of service systems, and improvement approaches to service efficiency. The insights offered to us from their look into our previous system enabled us to take a whole systems redesign, and through their informed support, having been involved in a number of programmes across England and Wales, we have been able to embark on this with confidence and real ownership.

Their professionalism is impressive and the quality of support offered whilst on-site and off-site is of an extremely high standard. Their ability to genuinely engage the whole staff group has been well acknowledged by our people."


Latest News

Outcomes and improvement framework for support for people with learning disabilities - LGA/ADASS CHIP Programme

The outcomes and improvement framework we have developed with the LGA/ADASS CHIP Programme and other stakeholders is now available for use. This outcomes and improvement framework was commissioned by the LGA and the Association of Directors of Adult Services (ADASS). It aims to help directors of adult social services work with their colleagues and partners to identify how they can improve how they support adults with learning disabilities and/or autistic people.


Improving support for people with learning disabilities in Bury

Assessment of opportunities to improve support for adullts with learning disabilities

In July 2022 we began work with Bury Council to identify opportunities to improve the lives of people with learning disabilities living in Bury. In particular we examined how they are supported to live the life they choose. We initially completed an assessment of opportunities to improve how people with learning disabilities in Bury are supported.

Currently we are supporting the "Towards Independence" project. It is a project being undertaken by an internal team (trained and supported by Alder Advice) to reassess the support to all people with complex support needs (defined as all cases with support costs over £1,800 pw) to ensure the support is person centred, strengths based and outcome focused in line with our "Progression" approach. The aim being to improve lives of the people being supported and to ensure support is relevant to individual aspirations, proportionate to need and that support costs are value for money.


North Wales strategy for child and adolescent mental health

Alder Advice is working closely with stakeholders including children and young people with lived experience to produce a North Wales strategy for child and adolescent mental health. The strategy is the Region's response to the “No Wrong Door” report from the Wales Children’s Commissioner. The first four work phases are complete. We are now working closely with stakeholders on Phase 5:


Dementia Learning and Development Framework and Toolkit for Wales

This dementia learning and development framework/toolkit was developed by Alder Advice for Social Care Wales in partnership with key stakeholders on an All-Wales basis.

It builds on and can be used alongside the Good Work: A Dementia Learning and Development Framework for Wales (2016), and workstream 5 (Workforce development and measurement) from the All-Wales Dementia Pathway of Standards

The framework and toolkit aims to support the development of effective dementia learning and development approaches by ensuring dementia care and support is in line with “what matters most” to people with dementia. It is based on theories of positive psychology that:

  • focus on meaning and purpose
  • build on strengths rather than addressing deficits
  • use positive strength-based language that is central to a strength-based approach.
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