Portsmouth - Appreciative Inquiry into Strengths based approaches

Appreciative inquiry evaluation of strength based approaches in Portsmouth

The Situation

Portsmouth Adult Social Care (ASC) is committed to using strengths-based approaches. Its 2021-25 ASC strategy states this aim. In the Summer of 2023, it decided to assess the progress it had made and identify its next steps. it appointed Alder Advice to help. The brief was to:

• Identify progress made to date.

• Recognise strengths to build on.

• Identify improvement opportunities.

Our Response

We recommended a appreciative inquiry approach. We structured this around the Five D process (Define, Discover, Dream, Design and Deliver). The first three D processes were undertaken over the summer. They comprised:

• A review of strategic and improvement plans and performance data.

• Appreciative interviews with senior managers.

• Co-production “discovery” and “dream” workshops and a questionnaire. Together these engaged more than 160 staff, experts by experience, carers, and other stakeholders.

• A peer review of more than 50 case files by Portsmouth staff with coaching support and independent moderation by Alder Advice.


The “Discovery” and “Dream” processes found that most stakeholders:

• Want Portsmouth to use strengths-based approaches, but there are concerns that actions do not yet match aspirations.

• Perceive that when care and support in Portsmouth is at its best it already uses strengths-based approaches.

• Report that their day-to-day experiences, when compared with their “best” experiences, shows that there is scope for Portsmouth to further improvement.


The “Discovery” and “Dream” processes established a strong case to continue onto the “Design” and “Delivery” processes. We anticipate these being undertaken in the Winter of 2023-24.

Likely benefits from undertaking the “Design” and “Delivery” processes include:

• More planned/proactive work, and less reactive work in response to crisis events.

• Citizen’s feel better supported with more choice and control over their lives.

• Balance of support changes - Less formal support and more informal support.

• Increased staff satisfaction – Recruitment and retention improves.

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.