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Individuals living with disabilities aren’t often given many opportunities to decide how they want to live their lives, and may have little say in the services and support they get. Usually, their families and caregivers are the ones who make decisions for them.
While some individuals with disabilities may be comfortable in these circumstances, others may wish to have more control of their lives and have the final say in the plans that are made on their behalf.
An overly paternalistic approach to care could also make them undermine their capabilities and become more dependent on their carers.
Person-centred care hopes to change this by reframing the approach.
This approach looks at individual needs, as opposed to simply imposing a support package or care regime on a person. It takes into account an individual's mental and physical needs, as well as their values and their environment.
Person-centred care may sound like a basic approach to supporting people with disabilities, but this approach isn’t always practised. Usually, service providers offer their full service package to clients, rather than working with them to find the best solution for them.
Here are the benefits you or the person under your care can expect from a more person-centred approach.
Have more control over decisions
The focus of a person-centred approach (This link directs you to a PDF about the person centred approach by ndp.org.au) to care is giving individuals more control in planning out their care and support options.
For many individuals with disabilities, choices are limited to what carers and loved ones believe is best for them. Even if this is done with the best intentions, however, it often puts aside the unique talents and gifts each individual possesses and the ways they can contribute.
Depending on the nature of their disability, many individuals want to play an active role in their life and feel underestimated when they are not given the opportunity to decide for themselves.
When a disability service provider offers a person-centred approach to care, people with disabilities can feel empowered by the opportunity to choose the support they want.
While they may still need guidance and support from therapists and medical professionals when working with the service provider to create a personalised support plan, playing a core role in the process can mean a lot to a person with disabilities.
Learn more about their strengths
Many individuals with disabilities are unaware of what they are capable of. For many, living with a disability can limit the opportunities they receive to discover their true potential.
Person-centred approaches to care focus on trying to determine a person’s unique strengths and abilities, and use this information to tailor-make the appropriate support plans.
By discovering these strengths, disability service providers can understand what a person with disabilities may be capable of doing on their own, and tailor services to be more geared towards areas that they truly need help in.
Understanding their strengths can also help people with disabilities set goals for themselves; goals that will motivate them to expand on their skills and experience things they may have once thought impossible.
Become more mindful of their health
Some individuals with disabilities get used to having their carers take care of things for them; sometimes this includes the things they can handle on their own. This can lead to them becoming sedentary and disconnected from caring for their overall wellbeing.
When given the opportunity to decide how they want their care and support to be delivered, these individuals will develop a stronger sense of responsibility for their own health and wellbeing.
They’ll start keeping track of things like whether or not they’re drinking enough water or getting enough daily exercise. Tracking the little things can help keep them healthy in the long run.
Adapting to more independent lifestyles
Sometimes, even when you or the person under your care want to become more independent, others may assist you with tasks that you may be perfectly capable of doing, or interested in learning to do, by yourself; like budgeting and planning your daily schedule.
This often gives a person with disabilities the feeling that they will always need someone to help them and decide for them.
This mindset can be harmful in the long run, especially when they’re being cared for by ageing parents. If their caregiver is no longer able to look after them, people with disabilities who haven’t learned to be independent will find it difficult to make decisions and plans on their own.
With a person-centred approach to care, individuals with disabilities can be encouraged to take up responsibilities for themselves, with as little help from their caregivers as possible. They’ll have the opportunity to understand what their capabilities are and learn to take up responsibilities that they can manage by themselves.
By becoming more independent, they will be ready for programmes, like supported independent living, where they can live as independently as possible—with a bit of support for the activities that they truly need help with.
Benefits to the caregivers
It’s not just the people under your care that will benefit from person-centred care; you as a caregiver will also benefit.
As a caregiver, you want to make sure that the person under your care is comfortable and content with the support they receive. By being able to decide how their care and support will be delivered, you can rest assured that they will be supported in a way that makes them happy.
A person-centred approach to care also means that you will have more time for yourself, and for your other responsibilities, since you won’t need to commit too much of your time to arrange support for the person under your care.
Choose person-centred care
The person-centred approach to care has given individuals with disabilities the ability to choose how they want to be cared for. It has helped enrich the lives of people with disabilities and made working disability support services more streamlined.
Get in touch with a well-known disability support service provider (This link will take you to the Shine Social and Communities homepage) in your area to learn more about this approach to care.
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