Being an appreciative inquirer

Posted on 25 February 2019 (Permalink)

Healthcare staff from the Midlands region are being encouraged to use Appreciative Inquiry (AI) in their workplace after attending a two-day AI training course at Woodbrooke Centre, Birmingham last month. 

The purpose of the two-day course (presented Professor Belinda Dewar and Fiona Cook from My Home Life, supported by Suzanne Quinney of Appreciating People and the West Midlands Patient Safety Collaborative) was to bring the excellent practice and wide range of tools of My Home Life to a wider audience drawing on:

  • Appreciative inquiry brings a fresh lens that helps people see old things in new ways, to notice what they value so that new options for decisions or actions become available.  It shifts focus from the past to what kind of future you want to create together. 
  • Relationship-centred practice places the focus on the importance of everyday mutually respectful and positive relationships between people that use services, their families, staff and managers and between services and the wider community, underpinned by the ‘Senses’, a framework for improving care by promoting positive relationships. The quality of the countless daily conversations and connections that take place are at the heart of learning and change and emphasise the importance of working together to co-create jointly desired futures.
  • Caring Conversations helps to think about our language, how we speak to each other and what we talk about. This helps to celebrate what is working well, consider the perspectives of all those involved, connect emotionally, be curious and suspend judgement, be courageous and take positive risks, collaborate to make things happen, and compromise to focus on what is real and possible.

Other objectives for the two-day course included refreshing attendees understanding of Appreciative Inquiry, gain further insight into the use of inquiry tools that help to enhance appreciative dialogue through illustrative examples and to practice and gain feedback on specific interventions that help to support appreciative dialogue.

Over 25 delegates attended the two-day course with one of them being Zoe Peryer, Educator at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.

Reflecting on the course, Zoe said: “It was inspiring and encouraging to see how other professionals and institutions have implemented these approaches and how they have improved practice.  It was also encouraging to see how people on the workshop were already planning new initiatives using the AI approach and updating and reviewing what they were using.  I had a real sense that people in the room were engaged and evolving practitioners, wanting to make a positive difference for their colleagues, their profession and ultimately patients. 

“Within a week of doing the workshop I was using some of the skills when talking with newly qualified nurses, getting them to focus on their achievements, helping them to find their confidence and become more self-aware; I have found that they had more of a spring in their foot when they left, realising how much they had achieved, rather than focusing on all the things that they can’t yet do.  I have also used the techniques when teaching and facilitating and on both occasions the group commented on how much they enjoyed the session, how safe they felt to express themselves and they seemed really engaged throughout.”

For more information on Appreciative Inquiry, visit the Appreciating People website by clicking here.