The Online Knowledge Center

Table of Contents

The Strategic Context

The final module of the “New Paths to Inclusion” Training Course in Person-centred thinking, planning and action focused on the consequences of Person Centred Planning which should lead to organisational change. This requires taking a closer look at what O`Brien and Towell called the strategic context of person-centred planning. Following Amado & Bride (2002, 370) it has been a common weakness that person-centred planning was perceived as just a different kind of planning process that could be delivered in a vacuum without significant organisational change. “Effective person-centred planning is not limited to the planning process itself; it also demands organisational, systems and community change.” If like John O`Brien and David Towell so clearly articulated, our focus is to achieve real positive differences in many people`s lives, than we must purposefully focus on building capacity or competence(s) on four different interrelated levels of change and actions over time, which following O`Brien and Towell mark the conditions for successful person-centred planning.

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Despite its usage in the disability field for many years, there are important differences in understanding of what inclusion is, how much to value it in relation to other desirable things, and especially what it means for the future of services.
The diagram on the other side of this page maps different understandings of inclusion on two dimensions:

- Responsibility – the demand for organizational action required by inclusion. Low responsibility means that, however important inclusion may be, it is primarily someone else’s task. Low responsibility for inclusion (Quadrant I & Q II) often means putting higher priority on other concerns like using scarce resources to provide current services to as many people as possible or respecting people’s or families’ expressed choice for current arrangements, or providing specialized interventions for underserved groups [...].

- Disruption – the extent of innovation that inclusion demands. Low disruption (Q II & Q III) holds that current practice is generally on track to offer as much support for inclusion as is possible and desired by people and families. Under all but the most unusual circumstances (exceptional levels of funding or heroic levels of family effort) inclusion outside the family circle and service world is unrealistic for people who require high levels of accommodation and assistance [...].

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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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If we intend for person-centered planning to be true to people and their families, then we must invest in organizational learning that promotes innovation. How we might expand and integrate aspects of personcentered planning and innovation as large systems move through significant organizational change toward
inclusion? How might we direct our attention away from old assumptions and practice toward the capacities of people, their neighborhoods, and our desire to make a difference in the lives of people?

As one of the originators of Person-Centered Planning, during the past 35 years I’ve had the privilege of introducing person-centered values and tools to a wide variety of people, service settings, and communities throughout the world. In my role as a consultant to New York State over the past 18 years, I’ve had the opportunity to plan with thousands of people, their families, support staff, and the organizations that support them.
I’ve been engaged in various planning conversations in virtually every type of service setting. I’ve also become personally involved with about 15 young people a year (x 35 years) who are transitioning from either high school, or a traditional segregated setting, toward a more inclusive life in a local community.

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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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To see the Mapping on the Inner States of Change Sectors, please click here.

What is this module for

  • To reflect upon the experiences of what was working and not working in implementing person person-centred practices in the area of work and respective organisations.
  • To identity barriers and possibilities for successful organisational change and be able to develop action plans based on the aggregated learning from individual plans.
  • To understand the philosophy, values and tools of person-centred thinking and planning as a continuum in the light of service, networking and community competence and to understand the role of organisations.
  • To develop an understanding of the importance of a person-centred organisational culture and find practical ways of putting it into practice.
  • To be able to use person-centred tools within an organisational context to develop a person-centred organisation.

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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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