‘Strengths’ Assertive Outreach: A Review of Seven Practice Development Programmes.
The Practice Based Evidence consultancy made special efforts to get involved in going beyond simple training; focusing on developing teams with a positive impact on practice. It is one thing to claim to support best practice, but another thing entirely to provide evidence for such claims. Assertive Outreach teams in the UK were a particular passion from the original establishment of the consultancy in October 2001. The following article was first published in the Mental Health Review Journal (June 2008) and is reproduced with their kind permission; it is an evaluation of the support provided, from a strengths perspective, for seven such teams.
Assertive outreach is based on extensive international research and has been promoted in the UK in 1999 as a key area of the National Service Framework for Mental Health. Its primary aim is to provide a specialist service for people disengaged from traditional approaches of mental health services, but very little attention has been paid to how such services can be developed. Practice Based Evidence, a practice development consultancy, has engaged seven assertive outreach teams to focus on development first, and follow-up evaluation of the impact of reflective practice on team functioning. This has prompted a number of strengths-based recommendations for changing the way we think about developing services before we engage in research and evaluation.