I’ve just come back from the second day of a two day Person Centred Review training course. I’ve done a few PCP (Person Centred Planning) courses now and despite considering myself to be very person centred in my thinking I’ve loved these courses because they reenergise me (and they’re such good fun!)
I’ve loved the passion they bring and the energy. I’ve loved the “light bulb moments” from the people who have attended, who may or may not have heard all this stuff before. I’ve loved the positive, can do…”we can change the world” feeling that some people have gained by attending and have gone away with, but most of all I’ve loved the people who have attended, the honesty in the room and what they brought, gave and shared of themselves. It was so refreshing!
I must be honest here and say that when I first came across person centred planning and it’s principles, eight years ago when G was fourteen, I was pretty cynical. All this “namby pamby”, new world/American stuff all felt a bit too “touchy feely” for my liking. I’m just not that kind of person!
As far as I was concerned I got the principles. I think I always had the principles, right from the start, but I’m also a realist and somehow Society’s and services view of G overtook this thinking, got sucked out of me.
My view at the time was… well, that’s just fine me thinking like this, but if no one else is “in step” then what do I do? As a parent I needed to play their game, understand and learn their system, suss out their agenda and plan a counter attack.
I was in battle mode in those days because life was a battle. As much as I believed in person centred approaches, if no one else was thinking like this I’d need to introduce it, but that felt like another battle, on top of several battles I was already facing. I wondered if I had the energy or the time, and I didn’t. Having a person centred plan wasn’t going to get me the services I needed for G, it wasn’t going to get me a night’s sleep or the post sixteen education he needed and we were fighting for. For this I needed to know the Law, my rights, his rights, the process. . So, because as parents we can only face one battle at a time it got parked for a while.
Since then I have used the principles and tools to plan G’s life with him and all the people who matter to him. I’ve developed training to introduce the principles to professionals and parents in the county. I have spouted all this and honestly believed it. I’ve tried to be a strong advocate locally but haven’t really got very far, despite my best efforts.
But, someone at the course today said “I feel like I’ve had a bit of a road to Damascus moment” …And I came away feeling a bit the same.
On reflection, for a while, I think I’ve talked the talk without really walking the walk. Now I’m ready to walk to talk! Because the one thing I have always prided myself on is having common sense. I’m not academic, I’m not particularly intelligent but I’ve always had common sense. And, this is just COMMON SENSE. It’s the only thing that has actually ever made any real sense!
The tools used are simple and effective and they have given me a chance to reclaim the principles I have always had, because they all make so much sense, FOR EVERYONE, not just people like G.
I think that my early experiences of person centred planning are fairly typical for parents of kids with learning disabilities, or anyone else who is introduced to them. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish what’s one new fangled idea from another and let’s face it in our world there is one new idea after another. But, this one is so blatantly obvious and simple it’s somehow been over looked. I think it was overlooked by us, because it’s where many of us started, but lost sight of along the way because of everything else that was going on.
I confess I feel a bit like someone who has turned up a little late, all excited, to a party. I’m sure that those who have been practicing this for some time will be thinking the same thing.
After today though I’m buzzing with ideas about how we can start to move this forward locally, planning a catch up meeting with everyone who took part and building on the momentum….
I’m glad I’ve written this all down to keep, posted it in a blog, to remind me just how I felt today.
Today was a good day. Today I finally feel I’m not only equipped with the tools to drive this forward but I’m in the right place, mentally and emotionally too. Today, for the first time I feel we are building an army of people to do this and I’m no longer alone, but after today I’m no longer in battle mode either. After the fun day I’ve had today I’m in party mode and I’m looking forward to thinking of fun ways to get this party started (in Oxfordshire anyway!)