Common themes emerge in creating person centred organisations supporting people with learning disabilities


There is an increasing focus on how organisations that support people with learning disabilities can move to a position where they can deliver personalised services. In Control has provided a range of reports on the evaluation of the use of personal budgets and a recent publication by Helen Sanderson Associates, Creating Person Centred Organisations has helped to identify a number of key elements necessary as the foundation for person centred organisations which included for example, visionary leadership and a community focus.

In this US study, the author looks at what this might mean for organisations looking to convert from facility-based services to individualised supports. She suggests that not only is a change in services required, but to bring about change in the way things are done and to improve outcomes for people, there is also a need for a transformation of organisational culture.

The author spent time in four US organisations which she described as making ‘sustained efforts to transform.’  In doing so, she was able to identify a number of common strategies for transformation, which included:

  • generating commitment to common values and mission,
  • a turn or return to authentic person-centered planning,
  • shifting power and control,
  • using community supports and relationships,
  • moving away from facility-based settings,
  • nurturing staff engagement.

She concludes that the transformation envisaged by organisational leaders required necessitated perseverance and long term commitment.

Strategies for Organizational Change from Group Homes to Individualized Supports, Walker P, in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 50, 5, 403-414.

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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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