Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Keeping Fidelity To Person Centred Values

This is a question we need to keep thinking about: "How do we keep fidelity to person centred values?"

Because it's so clear that person centred thinking and practices are a neccessity, because of the heroic work of the pioneers of community living, of inclusion, co-production and self-direction, of rights and citizenship, the words 'person centred' appear on every health and social-care organisations' website. It's a phrase that gets bandied about at every management meeting, but we also know that these aspirations are not always backed by action.

It's particularly painful when some terrible institutional abuse is described in a news article. Then, almost inevitably. in their reply, the leaders of that organisation describe how 'person centred' their approach to care is. Every time this happens, it devalues the concept in the eyes of readers and encourages a cynicism that justifies inaction, some people already feel the phrase "person centred" is just part of a new social care jargon - though it's also very clear to many the difference between what truly person centred practice can be like, and some of the service centred practices they've experienced.

It becomes difficult for anyone who is new to Health and Social Care to discriminate between those organisations who think all they have to do to make their organisation personcentred is to stick the words into their mission statement, and maybe some colourful paper on their walls, and those organisations (and there are quite a few out there) who are seriously striving to bring about person centred change with the people they support in a variety of imaginative and innovative ways.

We need ways of ensuring people find the right trainers, with the right values, and ways that help trainers keep hold of those values, and maintain their hope.

We need ways of making sure that the organisations that do strive for person centred change are recognised for the efforts they're making.

We need stories that show what real person centred practice is like and the difference it makes.

We need ways that can help some organisations can break out of those self-deluding and complacent phrases "We're already person centred", "we do all that already" so that they can begin the journey that is the striving for person centred change.

The UK learning community for person centred practices (and the international community it forms part of) is one of the major ways that the above needs can be addressed - because it contains different people, with different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives and people who hold person centred practice dear to their hearts, making it a repository of the values that matter,

Our community must be a place where rich learning is shared, a place where we can celebrate and share the serious work that is being done for change. We must support each other to maintain good values and share the best tools and practices, tell those powerful stories of change and then find ways to share them with the world.

The way to respond to those who misuse the words 'person centred', who use it without reference to the deeply rooted values behind it and treat it as a mere buzzword or a passing fashion is to demonstrate practically in people's real lives the best of what being person centred actually means.