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Using a strengths-based approach to enable adults to live better lives

Strengths-based practice is the cornerstone of the new Living Better Lives in Lancashire practice model in Adult Social Care.


Using a strengths-based approach to enable adults to live better lives

At the Social Work Show in Manchester recently, Kimberly Scott, Operational Lead in Adult Social Care, discussed Lancashire County Council’s Living Better Lives in Lancashire Vision which aims to support residents to live as independently as possible.

As part of their practice-led transformation, Lancashire County Council aim to implement a strength-based practice model, underpinned by their corporate values. At the heart of this transformation is a move away from a needs-deficit, care management model into one where our social care practice recognises and nurtures strengths in people, their families and communities.

Ms Scott said 'the Living Better Lives in Lancashire practice model has three distinct steps, in each of which we will spend time with people, understanding what matters to them and identifying how we can enable them to have meaningful lives'.

Promoting Independence

This is the first conversation with people who access Adult Social Care. In this conversation we will explore who the person is, what is truly important to them and what good looks like for them. We work collaboratively to identify their personal, family and community strengths and identify what connections can be made to enable them to have a good life.

‘Regaining Independence and Making Safe’

In step 1, what the person wants to achieve, gathering information about their own strengths and abilities, personal networks, and local area which could help them was looked at. Sometimes, having explored these options, it is not possible to achieve all of their outcomes without some additional, short term support or access to universal services such as reablement, enablement or equipment. In this step, practitioners look to support people to regain skills, reducing and delaying needs where possible, seeking to promote independence by enabling people to learn new skills.

Living with Care and Support

Some people will required long term support linked to Care Act 2014 eligibility. In step 3, eligibility is considered as defined in the Care Act 2014, utilising the information already gathered in order to collaboratively undertake support planning. Practitioners will always revisit whether advice and guidance or community support services / the voluntary sector/faith groups/social enterprises can meet eligible needs. Always focusing on the person's strengths. Meeting someone’s Care Act 2014 eligible needs does not always require commissioned services, the long-term support plan should include support from a range of services.

Ms Scott added that 'We will abide by the following value based principles and say no to:

-Triaging / Screening
- Waiting Lists
- Allocations, instead opting for meaningful connections
- Handoffs/ Referrals
- Traditional Assessments
- Services Seen as Solutions
- Step 3 before Step 1 or Step 2
- Long-Term Planning in a Crisis

As part of the new model there will be a brand-new Wellbeing and Early Support function. All people that are new to adult social care will be supported here.

The Wellbeing and Early support function will be made up of a range of professionals including Mental Health, Learning Disabilities and Autism, Older Adults, People with Physical Disabilities, Substance Misuses, Rovi and Occupational Therapists. With strong links to Safeguarding, Cares Services (EG. N-Compass), Reablement and Urgent Support.

The ethos will be about reducing handoffs and people not having to tell their story more than twice.
Undertaking all elements of the practice model; The Wellbeing and Early Support function will understand what community support is available so they are able to connect people to relevant services, and give information or advice to enable support to be provided close to where people live'

Ms Scott spoke about the councils ambitions for early engagement and their role in the prevent, delay and reduce element of the Care Act 2014. They will continue to build on their already strong links with libraries, public health, community, voluntary and faith groups. The transformation will target investment in specific place based community services and use quality data to enable targeted and innovative investment in appropriate community assets such as carer services, social isolation prevention, community transport – all of which benefits communities and neighbourhoods.

A focus on 'digital adult social care' will see the implementation of an accessible resource directory with place-based information and advice. Digital self-assessment and support planning are also being designed which will improve accessibility for adults.

Ms Scott ended the seminar by discussing what the next steps were to the implementation of the practice model across adult social care:

- Training for all practitioners, line managers and senior managers
- System wide changes

Lancashire County Council aims to roll out the model in the early months of 2024.

COMPASS runs events throughout the year with seminars on topics like the above. The next COMPASS event is in London on 20 November, and you can register for your free ticket at

Find out more about Lancashire’s strengths-based approach:

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