Neil Woodhead is Social Capital Development Manager in Derby City and leading the development of Local Area Coordination and Person Person Centred Practice . Here he reflects on the opportunities presented by person centred thinking/approaches and Local Area Coordination.
I recently had intended to attend the UK gathering of The Learning Community for Person Centred Practice in Birmingham, however in Derby we had an important meeting with colleagues from The University of Derby to take stock midway through year one of our LAC project.
This missed opportunity prompted me to reflect on a meeting I had been fortunate enough to be invited to towards the end of last year between two people who have had a significant impact on my life over the last 10 years.
The meeting took place between Ralph Broad and Helen Sanderson, it was the beginning of the conversation about the links between LAC and person centred practices. It was a great meeting to be part of and obviously, as you would expect there were lots of opportunities and potential discussed.
The reason why I reflected on that particular meeting this morning, is that I was tasked with writing up examples of where we had used person centred tools in our work on the Derby LAC project. Whilst the tools are embedded in everything in do…I haven’t taken the time to write up the examples, and so I was a little relieved that I wouldn’t have to “fess up” to Helen.
However, it did leave me thinking about the two approaches and what made them such a perfect match. After the university meeting, I got involved in a conversation with a colleague who was incredibly frustrated with the way services can respond to people by disempowering them and leaving them labeled as difficult.
Then, the light bulb went on. When we go into any relationship with the people we are working with or walking alongside we should embark on that journey by offering three promises to the person: 1. To listen to what is being said and to what is meant by what is being said and to keep on listening.
Listening is not a one off event that happens at assessment or review.
2. To act on what we hear and always find something that we can do today or tomorrow, and to keep acting on what we hear.
3. To be honest and open in every communication. Particularly when we do not know how to help the person get what they want, because it’s at this point that we create the space for the person to take ownership of their own issues, and creativity can flow. Especially if the final promise is that, we will walk alongside them.
For me these principles are the foundation of LAC and person centred approaches and in order to be effective in our roles we must keep them at the centre of everything we do.
Listen and Keep on Listening