Appreciative Inquiry: An alternative to behaviour management

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Appreciative Inquiry is an approach to organisational change that has been effective and popular around the world for the past two decades. What could it have to offer us as an alternative to traditional ‘behaviour management’? Traditionally, in modern dementia care, we take a psychiatric approach to the range of actions that people engage in when stressed or traumatised by the cognitive, social and psychological losses associated with dementia. We call them symptoms of an illness – Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia. Then, we medicate them away because if they are symptoms then medical solutions are called for. We may obtain a better outcome from a different direction. Appreciative Inquiry focuses on an organization as a ‘solution designed in its own time to meet a challenge or satisfy a need of society’. This approach focuses on what is working well and is effective in organisations rather than seeing the organisation as a problem to be solved. In this way, we may approach the individual person as a solution designed in its own time to meet a challenge or satisfy a need. Using the 4Ds of the Appreciative Inquiry approach, this article examines the process of Discovery, Dream, Design and Destiny, as it is applied to a case example of a care situation that usually ends with disruption and distress. By formulating affirmative topic choices, the staff group and individual carers may resolve issues with what people with dementia do or say in a way that is humane and hopeful.

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