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Report from The 2015 Learning Community for Person-Centred Practices Gathering

The second annual Learning Community for Person-Centred Practices Gathering in Ontario took place on April 14-15 in Richmond Hill. Five LiveWorkPlay staff members were in attendance and also contributed on a formal basis by hosting a session “Out of the Box and Off the Shelf: Bringing Person-Centred Plans To Life!” Presented by Support Coordinator Allison Moores and People Connector Alex Darling, attendance was standing room only. This was in keeping with the level of enthusiasm demonstrated by delegates throughout the sold-out event. In addition to contributors such as Julie Malette and Helen Sanderson who are already well known to the LiveWorkPlay team, Steve ScownMichael Smull, and Vaugh Glover also made a big impression.

Standing room only photo taken just before Alex and Allison got underway. A high-five to celebrate their first public presentation together!

“I really enjoyed the spirit of this gathering,” said Allison. “For example, staff from some more traditional agencies that attended our session seemed to really appreciate hearing a different perspective on how things can be done. Many of them asked if they could follow up with us after they take the information back home. And right after the session ended there was a conversation with representatives from an agency where they seemed very determined to look at making a big transition away from site-based programs to person-centred and community-based support. It was very exciting to hear that! As a final thought, Michael Smull did a great job emphasizing the importance of making sure supported people like and trust those who are supporting them. This is obvious in some ways but how many organizations actually have  a commitment to that?”

“The stories from Helen were particularly inspiring,” said Alex. “More than a nice idea, person-centred practices get results where more traditional approaches often fail. I look forward to strengthening my approach to supporting our volunteers and members. I also enjoyed the opportunity to talk about my work at LiveWorkPlay with such an engaged audience.”

“Julie and Helen so modestly describe how person-centred approaches have rescued labeled people from systemic thinking that had devastated their choices and freedoms without positive or lasting results,” said Keenan Wellar. “Individuals with complex labels stand to benefit the most from being listened to! Vaughn Glover reinforced similar themes from a health care perspective, and his comment that person-centred practitioners ‘can be a real pain to those who don’t want to change’ really hit home in reference to some of the work we’ve done at LiveWorkPlay to shine a light on regressive practices.”

“I was listening carefully to comments that Steve and Michael shared about staffing,” said Julie Kingstone. “Steve was really clear that the person-centred approach is not going to be a fit with every person you hire, and that’s just a fact of life and you can’t dance around it. Michael had a lot to say about what it takes to bring about systems change, and how at times trailblazing can be a lonely ride — but someone has to lead! He also did a great job illustrating how the program approach fails so badly at giving labeled people what they often need most: natural relationships.”

Jim Turner gets the Learning Marketplace started!

In addition to pre-planned sessions, an important feature at The Gathering is the Learning Marketplace. Shortly after getting started on day one, delegates are invited to share ideas for informal discussions that take place during planned breaks. Jim Turner from Community Living Aitikokan hosted a well-attended Learning Marketplace about a developing project involving about a dozen partners (so far) including LiveWorkPlay and The Mills Community Support. “After talking with staff from Mills Community Support and LiveWorkPlay I found we were all on the same page,” said Jim. “We would like to see a strong Learning Community for Person-Centred Practices right here in Ontario.” Stay tuned for further information!

It’s not a big surprise that person-centred leaders are also making the effort to share through social media, and there were a number of fun exchanges during the gathering. One of our favourite posts was this contribution from the Twitter account of The Learning Community for Person-Centred Practices based in the United States:

“Bringing plans to life: because you can’t eat the menu!”

A great place to learn more about person-centred practices is the HSA Canada website