By Betsy Gadbois, Director of Learning & Education for Opportunity Partners

Betsy Gadbois

Person centered thinking and person centered planning seem to be the buzzwords in the disability world, again. We have been talking about these concepts for all of my 30+ years in the field. We all want to believe that we are providing person centered services and that we have been doing it all of our careers. However, the things we believed were person centered 20 years ago are now things we cannot believe that we did. We scratch our heads and say, “What was I thinking?” Being person centered means we must continue to think about our work and how what we do leads the people we support to the lives they want.

Effective January 2014, providers across the state of Minnesota are required to comply with a new rule, Chapter 245D “Home and Community-based Services Standards.” The intent of the rule is to assist us to be more person centered in our service delivery. It asks teams to look at not only what is important for a person (issues of health, safety and security) but also what is important to a person. Things that are important to a person are the things that help us all to feel satisfied, fulfilled, content and happy. Think about what’s important in your life … Who are the people you want to be with? What are the things you like to do? What are things you must have?

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Really understanding what is important to a person requires us to plan in a different way. New assessment tools will ask different questions. They will focus on strengths and desires rather than on deficits and vulnerabilities. Our planning conversations will be different; we need to focus on the future and not as much on the past. The individuals we support need to be in control of their meetings and outcomes.

Everyone has hopes, dreams, and desires. Our job is to learn what they are and help each person move in the direction they choose. We must continue to work at being person centered. We don’t want to be scratching our heads another 20 years from now.