The person centred approach in action

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The ‘person centred approach’ is a widely used term, but do we truly understand what it means for an individual with a disability? Can it be put into practice without hesitation? In this blog post, I’d like to explain what it means to me, and how it has taken shape in my life.

For me, a person centred approach means that I can live my life with the support I need, and therefore my disability is able to have as little an impact on my life as is physically possible. For example, if I want to attend that last minute social occasion, it’s possible, because I have a team of support workers behind me who are responsive to my needs.

I am by no means suggesting though, that to be considered person centred, you have to be able to do things at the last minute. To put person centred thinking into action you simply have to be responsive to what a person would like to do.

Some people with a disability will have clear ideas and plans for what he/she would like to do. Other people will need facilitation with the decision-making process.

The key is responding to the kind of support the individual needs and providing support that is flexible in nature and meaningful for them.

For example, you might think the person you are supporting would enjoy shopping but in reality, they might actually gain more satisfaction by doing some voluntary work in the community. You might be thinking of person centred thinking as something you have to implement, but instead you could try to see it as something we all do every day, as part of life.

We make plans for the weekend, plans for life and for what we hope to achieve. The only difference for people with a disability is that they have traditionally not been given as much choice, power and control over their OWN lives. I can honestly say that, for me, person centred thinking is not just a concept, it’s the way I live my life.

It continues to ensure that I have a valued role in my community. Most importantly though, it enables me to think about and take advantage of voluntary, paid and social opportunities instead of focusing on the barriers that life with a disability can present.

A person centred approach is in essence where we are moving to as a society. I am aware from presentations I have given and/or conferences I have attended that, for some people, there continues to be apprehension about adopting this new approach.

Some may even perceive it to be a waste of time, but I can only encourage you to view the person centred approach as a lifestyle choice we all have the right to make, rather than a ‘new’ practice that needs to be implemented into service delivery for people with a disability.

I’d love to hear what you think about the person centred approach? What are your experiences?

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  4. An historic day for the disability sector

Mel Schlaeger