Person Centred Lifestyle Planning, by Katharina Gintarra

April 23, 2010

Still, not everybody in our society has the same opportunities to make choices on an equal basis with others. But living independently means making your own choices! Self-determination does not mean that you have to live on your own, without any support. It’s about alternatives. Unfortunately, it’s not a reality for many people with disabilities. Most of the time they are confronted with other people making important decisions for them. That’s heteronomy! 

Biographies of people with disabilities are often structured identically. They start with a special kindergarten, continue with a special school and end up with working in a sheltered workshop and living in an institution. Besides this traditional way there aren’t many community-based alternatives to choose from.

The method of Person Centred (Lifestyle) Planning is one way to offer persons with disabilities these choices to increase their personal self-determination. The idea of the Person Centred Planning was developed in the 1980s in the US and Canada. But in lots of countries this method is still unknown. The core idea of the method is that people with or without disabilities get together in a future framing meeting thinking and talking about the dreams and wishes of the main person involved in the Person Centred Planning.

This circle of very important people in the main person’s life, like friends or parents, is called a circle of friends. They support the main person who always remains to be the decision-maker! Nobody is barred because of his/her disabilitiy or severity of disability.

Everybody is allowed to dream about their future and to make plans to achieve this personal dream. During the Person Centred Planning, which may include only one or sometimes more meetings, the main person builds up a picture of their future life and decides together with their supporters, the circle of friends, how this future life could be accomplished step by step. Together they create an action plan. The main person always takes the centre stage. It’s their life and they make the decisions. But they are not alone on their way. They have got their circle of friends who support them. That’s what self-determination forms.

This view is totally different to the traditional, care based view to people with disabilities. It’s based on a social model approach that includes the perspective that every person with disabilities has the  right to live and participate in the community on an equal basis with others and is able to make his personal choices.

It’s important that society changes its view to people with disabilities, which is still very care based,  and accepts their human rights on an equal basis with others!

Person Centred Planning is a good way to spread the ideas of a social and human rights based model and to increase self-determination for people with disabilities!

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2 Responses to “Person Centred Lifestyle Planning, by Katharina Gintarra”

  1. Linda McLean Says:

    Good points that you made very simply,
    It is not wrapped up in jargon – it is written so anyone can understand.
    Although you say that “It is important that society changes its view” – Society might ask: “Why? What have disabled people ever done for us?”

    How do you make Society SEE it’s own behaviour?Or understand how destructive and disabling it can be?

    I am reading an excellent book just now – “The Forgotten Highlander” by Alastair Urquhart about how the Japanese treated him as a POW. I have been asking myself: “Does Society really treat us that differently?”
    Does it not just contain us and give us the bare minimum?

  2. Katharina Gintarra Says:

    Hello Linda,

    thanks a lot for your positive feedback. You brought up some interesting ideas. I agree with you that society may not see the urgency of changing their own behavior. You can ask as well, who is SOCIETY? Who exactly has to change? It is so complex and difficult to answer simply.

    I think in Germany, for example, where I live, one of the most important things is the change of thinking that big institutions are the best way to “take care” of people with disabilities. The idea of an independent living through personal assistance for example is still not widespread but must be reality and normality for everybody!! So Society just in this case are the “professionals”.

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