The trouble with person-centered planning – an essay by John O’Brien with great current significance in the UK

Peter Limbrick writes: I highly recommend this challenging article as I also recommend the network that sent it to me. The essay carries its own important message which I will not attempt to summarise here. But it did make me remember two people who made a lasting impression on me.


The first was a chemist whom I met at an artist’s private view. Exchanging chat about our work I learned that he had once had close links with a particular health initiative and his advice was that activists should never let any government get hold of their campaign.  I see his point. What goes into the maw of any administration looks very different when it comes out at the sticky end.


Following this thought, I suspect that UK users’ great desire to have a keyworker is being carefully digested by the UK coalition government and is gradually emerging as some ill-defined ‘keyworking’ in which the valued face-to-face support, human to human, will be replaced by a bureaucratic co-ordination exercise.  Practitioners will do their keyworking on their ipad on their way into work. I imagine there are people now designing keyworking software.


The second was Tom Pascoe who was responsible for the best parts of my education as a graduate teacher of special needs children. He was a lecturer, activist and boxer who spoke simply and argued forcefully.  Part of his philosophy was that any message we want to spread about children with special needs should be so framed that we could stand on a table in a pub and get our point across.  He was right.


I had practical experience of this when running One Hundred Hours in Yorkshire in the 90s. It was common for pub social and sports groups to raise money and then invite me to receive the cheque and say thank you to the regulars.  I did my best to learn here how to be heard, relevant, passionate and brief across a noisy room – and did not always succeed!


I dare to suggest that this important and well-argued essay would have additional reach if it were put through the Tom Pascoe mill.


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