Visual Inquiry involves the use of generic images as a way in which to open up conversation. Research has shown that the sharing generated through the use of images can be more detailed than occurs when only verbal means are used. The use of the Visual Inquiry method can help to build connection between people, as they share in real and meaningful ways, while staying safe and only sharing what they feel comfortable with. Other benefits to using this method are that the images can evoke ideas, thoughts and feelings that the person participating was previously unaware of themselves. Therefore, the learning generated can be new both for the person picking the image and those who are listening to what they share.

The How

The images (approx. 70) are laid out for participant/s to be able to view them all, this may be on a floor or table, and the participant/s are invited to pick one or more images from the selection. The facilitator of the process poses a ‘stem question’, it is emphasised that as the person is sharing from their own experience there can be no wrong answer. An example of a stem question would be the facilitator inviting the participant/s to ‘select an image which sums up what it feels like to work here’. The participant is then invited to share why they choose that particular image. In keeping with a collaborative approach when using Visual Inquiry, it is a good idea that as far as possible the facilitator also selects and shares on an image.

The Where and When 

  • Meetings with relatives/residents/staff/people who use the care service
  • At start or finish of meeting as a way of gathering thoughts/feelings- At start or finish of meeting as a way of gathering thoughts/feelings
  • To  inquire about a particular topic e.g. asking a relative to describe what a really good visit would look like for them
  • Staff supervisions
  • Aid to reminiscence exercise with residents/clients/person who use services living with dementia
  • Start or finish of inspection visit

If you would like to order a Visual Inquiry pack of image cards please visit