Relationships are central to appreciative inquiry.  They are also at the heart of excellence in dignified and compassionate care.

To foster a relationship centred approach to practice Professor Nolan and colleagues at Sheffield University developed the Senses Framework. The framework was the result of extensive research carried out in a range of care settings. The research found that the best care for older people involves the creation of an enriched environment of care. The framework proposes that an enriched environment of care exists for older people, for family caregivers and for staff working with them. They put forward that, to achieve enriched environments of care, staff, patients and their families have to have the senses of security, belonging, continuity, purpose, significance and achievement met. Outcomes of relationship centred practice are where staff, people receiving care and support and families all achieve the 6 senses. These are a sense of:

  • Security
    To feel safe physically, psychologically and emotionally
  • Belonging
    To feel part of a valued group, to maintain or form important relationships
  • Continuity
    To be able to make links between the past, present and future
  • Purpose
    To enjoy meaningful activity, to have valued goals
  • Achievement
    To reach valued goals to satisfaction of self and/or others
  • Significance
    To feel that you ‘matter’ and are accorded value and status

(Nolan et al 2006)

Importantly,by recognising that everyone involved in caring relationships requires the same six senses to be met, the framework emphasises our shared humanity.

One way of achieving the senses for staff, people being supported by care staff and families is through the use of caring conversations, and more explicitly those identified in the 7 c’s framework.


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