Report review: Head, hands and heart: asset-based approaches in health

| Helen Sharp

Published byThe Health Foundation

Author – Simon Rippon and Trevor Hopkins

Date of publication – April 2015

“It is not the lack of evidence that seems to be the issue; rather it is the lack of status of the evidence on asset-based approaches.”

This might be one of the longer reports that I have read, but it was well worth it and I think it’s something that everyone trying to implement asset-based approaches and ABCD should have in their library. I suppose, for me, it’s about having evidence to hand which my senior leaders were always clamouring for – especially in health. Well, here it is… or certainly a good start!

This report is designed for anyone who is looking to introduce asset-based working into mainstream health and social care sectors. It brings together the theory and concepts, the evidence base and most notably, the criticisms and challenges. And then the last half is a series of six case studies, some of which I’m hoping to look at in more detail later in the year.

The best bits? Well, the whole spirit of the document is worth immersing yourself in when you’re feeling particularly jaded from the resistance and challenge of the real world. On a more practical note:

  • There’s an interesting theory of change and logic model which might be useful when influencing others – in particular beware missing out the reframing step (page 9 and 25).
  • There’s lots of lovely evidence – albeit mainly qualitative – but it pulls it altogether under one chapter and points out that the link between levels of health and well-being and the strength of connectedness has been well researched since the 1970s – something I will be using in future (page 14 and 20).
  • It introduces you to the salutogenic theory, the building block behind an assets approach with a useful diagram describing the asset and resource concepts embraced by this theory on page 17.
  • It questions the current role of evaluation and how it fails to effectively measure values-based work (page 45).
  • The section on criticism is a must-read because it may help you understand the motivation behind the resistance to this way of working – think power systems and accountability (Chapter 4).

Overall the report may have a health focus, but I think it is relevant across the board for practitioners, commissioners and strategic leads so give it a read and share it around!

“The term ‘health’ has become so associated with treating illness that it diverts people away from thinking about wellbeing.”

You can read the full report here.

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