Articles

As we work for and support people with differences, we can forget to stop, think and reflect about what we do and how we support people, so our values are at the centre of our thoughts and actions.

Here are some articles that will help. Please let us know what you think of them.

What has been achieved thus far?

When we started working in services for people with learning difficulties in the 1980s, most people lived in institutions and our task was to close them and help people move into community settings. We all felt that we were on a massive mission to change services. Some services were value based, inclusive and considerate of the person at their centre. Other replicated the past, large fifteen bedroom houses etc. We had Normalisation, the Five Accomplishments, Person Centred Planning, Supported Living and each of these lead to some positive changes. 
Now, more people live where they want. More people are looking after themselves and People First is an active network. People with differences are actually working in shops. Marks and Spencer’s has a very good track record.  And here comes the BUT. It is still not enough. Why aren’t more people living as they want and as full citizens of our communities in their own way? Perhaps it is because most people are simply present but not included in their communities. We may implicitly feel that this is enough of a change. However, while it is great that people are generally living within their communities, I wonder how many feel that they are full and included citizens. Physical presence alone is not enough. 

John O’Brien’s Five Accomplishments ask for more than simple presence: community presence, relationships, respect, choice and competence. These questions are, to us, natural follow ups from the earlier models. 

How present is the person in their community? What is the quality of the relationships they have-valued or just the ones that have been made available? How does the person respect themselves? How much respect is given to the person and their talents and difficulties?  How much choice and control does the person have in their life? To what extent is the person seen and accepted as a competent member of society?

If we use the questions to assess the progress we have made, then it is obvious that the practical has been achieved but the more silent issue of inclusion and absorption while recognising and honouring the individual person, their differences and talents has barely begun. 

We are not convinced that there is sufficient global recognition of the need that has to be addressed nor is there motivation. What should we do? We could leave it as it is or we could start in small ways in our own spheres of life. As someone once said, “Start somewhere, go everywhere.” 

The first step is to look at ourselves to analyse and understand how we have helped or hindered the attainment of the five accomplishments. We should also ask people themselves what more they want and/or need. Perhaps, collectively, we also need to ask what our communities and societies need and how to ensure that sufficient change occurs. 

Perhaps, this could be seen as the next phase of the change towards true and real inclusion? 

Thanks

© Civitas Vera (2020)

Download