And it’s that phrase and emphasis during a session that usually generates enthusiasm and Chi (energy) that helps empower low care and high care residents. Often residents with various disabilities will focus on what’s not working which can be debilitating and can demotivate them from trying to improve their wellbeing.
When I’m sitting across from an resident and see they have difficulty in moving an arm or leg because of a disability I say to them ‘what can you move?’ If the answer is ‘I can only move my left arm this high’ then I’ll say, ‘okay, try that, just focus on what works and we will go from there.’
This appreciative approach tends to empower residents; we, Sue James and I, use it when we run Appreciative Inquiry workshops for organisations. And afterall, organisations are made up of individuals so it really can work at a micro level with elderly residents who have various disabilities in aged care centres.
Focus on what works rather than what’s not working is not a new theme in my experience; I used similiar words when coaching junior and senior basketball in the 1970’s before Appreciative Inquiry was created by David Cooperrider and his colleagues in the mid 1980’s.
What I like about the AI principles and assumptions is that they’re practical and by adapting the academic theory to suit specific situations – they work.
The AI Chi I use in aged care centres supports that.
Footnote: YouTube short clip – Appreciative Inquiry: A Conversation with David Cooperrider