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Abstract

With the “Theory of Communicative Action” (Jürgen Habermas) as a backdrop, the authors highlight the need to incorporate the logic of the lifeworld into social work practice. Habermas observed that society operates accordingly either to the logic of the system or that of the lifeworld. Social work practice runs the risk of being solely driven by the logic of the system and in doing so, creates the illeffects of devaluing the strengths and resources of their clients and even excluding them from their families, friends, neighbours and the mainstream. They offer SONI as a model of practice that is built on principles and techniques that pave the way for the wisdom and values of the lifeworld to permeate the logic of the system. A case study illustrates how the SONI model operates in the fields of Structures, Organisations, Networks and Individuals.

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The purpose of person-centered practice is to assist people with intellectual disabilities and their allies to co-create the conditions for a life together that they have good reasons to value living. Such a life includes a personally suited version of the ordinary experiences that matter to anyone: the experience of being present in typical community places for the same purposes as other citizens; a sense of belonging as an equal among others; opportunities to develop gifts and capacities and experience the respect and sense of meaning that comes with the expression of those capacities in contributing social roles; and the power to make choices about their life circumstances.

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Person-centered planning is a means to identify important future possibilities for a person and coordinate action that moves toward that future. The horizon of possibilities people identify and the extent of social learning they mobilize to move toward those possibilities varies with the context for planning. 
Two distinctions are important for understanding the differing contexts that shape the contribution person-centered planning can make to people living in their own homes and working in real jobs.

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It is very simple. Well done, and with a solid values base, the family of Person-Centered Planning approaches can and do assist to create some remarkable, almost unimaginable futures, for people who have traditionally been written off and institutionalized. It can be a core element in a systems change strategy. So the 'possibilities' and power of Person-Centered planning and facilitation have only just begun, and are brimming with enormous promise.

However, simultaneously, there is a serious challenge to this potential as large system 'accountability' requirements thin the soup of possibility into a gruel that can barely sustain life. The pressure to deliver 'more' with less and do it faster means that the very core of Person-Centered Planning is often gutted because there is no time to be person centered. In fact, in North America, with economic cutbacks, there is a frightening 'recovery' and 'reinvestment' in larger-group mini-institutions and institutions.

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Creating Blue Space: Fostering Innovative Practices for People with Developmental Disabilities [(2013) Toronto: Inclusion Press] explores three core themes:

  • The breakdown of the delegated approach to serving people with developmental disabilities and the search for good support forms through innovation in an evolving developmental disabilities field.
  • Moving from client-hood and consumerism to citizenship by undertaking a quest for communities of diversity and mutuality.
  • The design and delivery of individualized supports through the development of blue spaces that encourage generative action in self, relationships and organizations.

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