While the concept of person centred practice is not new, it is an issue that is coming to the fore particularly with the advent of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
In the past, the most common service approaches to working with people with a disability were ‘service centred’ – where support was related to what the service provider could offer – or ‘problem centred’ – where a therapist or support worker made decisions about a person’s life based on their own skills and experience.
A person centred approach focuses on making sure a person with a disability is at the centre of all decisions and actions that relate to their life and their support.
What is person centred practice?
Being person centred assumes that an individual can determine the direction of their life based on their own strengths, abilities, networks and preferences to meet their goals at any stage in their life. The person requesting or requiring support is the driver, rather than the organisation providing the support.
What is self-direction?
Self-direction, or self-directed funding, lets the person with a disability and their family decide how to use their funding to best meet their needs. It provides choice and control over the supports and services used.
The NDIS has been designed based on self-direction. In Queensland, you can self-direct your support through Your Life Your Choice.
Queensland disability services
In Queensland, Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors initiated a self-directed funding model in 2012. Prior to this, Disability Services provided funding to services, and people with a disability were referred to these services.
By taking on a person centred framework, the government acknowledged that the person with the disability and their family were often the best placed to know what is needed to meet their needs.
In some cases, Disability Services holds the person’s funding and they make payments directly to the person’s bank account. This is referred to as ‘direct payments’.
Alternatively funding may be held by a host provider who assists the person and their family to manage their money. In both cases, the person gets to direct where, when, how and on what their funding is spent.
Implementing person centred approaches
Person centred approaches require that resources be used flexibly to achieve what is important to the individual.
For a person with a disability, good planning is essential so that everyone in the person’s life is aligned with them about what they want to achieve in their life and how they want to achieve it. It is also a requirement to ensure that the person is able to use their funding to build the life they want to live.
For services organisations, and the people who work there, it is important to listen to clients and work with them and their families to help them achieve what is important to the person, rather than trying to slot them into predefined service offerings.
Real person centeredness comes from:
- Listening and being willing to hear and act. It calls for all parts of an organisation to listen to what’s important to the person now and into their future.
- Giving up power over the person and being willing to work with the person’s capacities and choices and assisting them to find ways to overcome barriers.
- A willingness to work with the person’s family, network and community to enable what is important to them to become a reality.