A process for making culture change happen

Partnerships in Dementia Care (PiDC) Alliance’s culture change process is firmly rooted in the belief that in order to move to a relational model of living it is essential to actively engage everyone who has a stake in the change – staff, volunteers, families, older adults (including those with dementia) – and genuinely value their perspectives.

Authentic Partnerships

To achieve this, the PiDC Alliance uses an approach called Authentic Partnerships which is guided by 3 principles:

  • A genuine regard for self and others
  • Synergistic relationships
  • Focus on the process

These 3 principles along with the 5 enablers of the Authentic Partnerships approach are described in the Authentic Partnerships fact sheet

Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative Inquiry is another important feature of the PiDC Alliance’s culture change process. Appreciative Inquiry is different from traditional problem-oriented approaches because it focuses on strengths rather than on what is wrong. It seeks to discover what it is that gives life to an organization when it is working at its best and connected to its members and community. It uses these strengths to envision possibilities for the future.

Traditional problem-oriented approach Appreciative approach

Focus on what’s wrong; search for root causes of failures

Focus on what works; search for root causes of success

Obstacles treated as barriers

Obstacles treated as ramps into new territory

If you look for problems, you’ll find (and create) more problems

If you look for successes, you’ll find (and create) more successes

Can lead to blaming

Can lead to greater creativity



The following quotes demonstrate the power of focusing on strengths:

It’s so refreshing… to be working on a project that is going to concentrate on the positive. All the ministries, all our legislative requirements, everything is always looking at what you’re not doing.

(long-term care home staff member - McKeown et al., 2015, p. 7)

It’s almost easier to work through the positives because I think if you’re working on negatives often people can’t get beyond it – it doesn’t move forward.

(family member - McKeown et al., 2015, p. 8)

The Appreciative Inquiry process is summed up in our Appreciative Inquiry fact sheet


Dupuis, S.L., McAiney, C.A., Fortune, D. B., Ploeg, J., & de Witt, L. (2014). Theoretical foundations guiding culture change: The work of the Partnerships in Dementia Care Alliance. Dementia Online First, January 13, 2014. Available from Sage Journals Online