When it comes to disability, what does a person-centered approach mean? Person-centered is attributable to every aspect of a person’s life. The person, is central to making decisions about their life, and it means treating people with dignity and worth by being aware of and supporting personal identity, perspectives, beliefs, values and choices. Person-centered is essentially a philosophy for those with a disability. It is an approach that helps to inform decision-making. To the rest of the world, it may seem obvious. For a person with a disability, Person-centered ensures that the person is involved in the decisions that affect their life.
Person-centered may make some people uncomfortable. Though some people may not have the same mental competencies as their peers, person-centered is still important. A person-centered approach is about each individual and what they want. It is a guiding principle for human rights that justifies humanity for us all. However, person-centered is not always used when planning the lives of people with disabilities. A person-centered approach means the disabled person can tell whoever is supporting them, what they want for themselves. It’s an awareness of who the person is and how the person wants to live in the community.
Does being person-centered mean letting someone sit on a couch all day until bedtime? Are there limits to person-centered? There are no limits to being person-centered. But what person-centered strives for is conversation. It is important for the person with a disability to be part of the conversation. It is a process that involves listening, thinking together, coaching, sharing ideas, and seeking feedback.
Being person-centered is part of an expectation we have as human beings. Not everyone is going to want to work, not everyone is going to want to live in an apartment, not everyone will want to live with a group of people, not everyone will want to be in day hab or have fun all day, not everyone has the same abilities, not everyone has the same disabilities, not everyone has disabilities, not everyone speaks the same way, not everyone has the same emotions at one time, and not everyone is the same. But everyone has the right to self-direction and choice, and the right to tell other people what they want or need to get what they want.
Person-centered is important for everyone, and essential for a person with a disability. Let’s be person centered all the time, not some of the time. That’s the person centered approach!