Organisational Change

The final module of the 'New Paths to Inclusion' Training Course in Person-centred thinking, planning and action focused on the consequences of Person Centred Planning which should lead to organisational change. This requires taking a closer look at what O`Brien and Towell called the strategic context of person-centred planning. Following Amado & Bride (2002, 370) it has been a common weakness that person-centred planning was perceived as just a different kind of planning process that could be delivered in a vacuum without significant organisational change. 'Effective person-centred planning is not limited to the planning process itself; it also demands organisational, systems and community change.' If like John O`Brien and David Towell so clearly articulated, our focus is to achieve real positive differences in many people`s lives, than we must purposefully focus on building capacity or competence(s) on four different interrelated levels of change and actions over time, which following O`Brien and Towell mark the conditions for successful person-centred planning.

These four levels are:

  • The individual level in increasing possibilities for change through person-centred planning and action
  • The Organisational level in building capacity to learn from changing individual demands, to informing sustainable organisational change in ways that increase people`s ability to lead better and effectively control their lives.
  • The local or community level in aligning forces to develop capacity for social inclusion in opening mainstream services and building local social capital.
  • And the national level in developing policies that reflect the shared values and steps inherent in the UN-Convention of the rights of people with disabilities.

It is important to have these interlinked areas of change in mind, but our main focus throughout this introduction will be to focus on the organisational parts of change.

Throughout many English-speaking parts in the world the last decade has seen considerable investments and attention in training and policy development around person-centred approaches, peaked in the UK Governments White paper “Valuing People” and its successors “Valuing People Now” and “Putting People First” with its emphasis on Personalisation and Individual Support Planning. Still, as the world`s biggest scientific evaluation of the Impact on Person-centred planning in the UK has found out (Robertson et. al. 2007), despite many positive effects, the introduction of person-centred planning had not led to an increased chance that people with disabilities were living in their own apartments or were having real jobs. This made the authors of the study reason that „Person Centred Planning is a complex innovation in learning disability services, requiring significant changes to established organisational cultures and practices“(Roberston et. al. 2007a, 87).

Many available services for people with disabilities are and were not designed to provide tailored supports to people in valued roles in ordinary settings. Following Iles (2003, 66) there is an urgent need of a 'cultural change in the ways that services are comprised and delivered'. The use of a 'context-free' (O`Brien & O`Brien 2000) or rather culturally non sensitive application of person-centred approaches must be seen as a 'prescription for a system fix that is doomed for failure in terms of helping disclose the capacities and gifts of people with disabilities.' The main aim of this introduction will thus be to take a closer look at these cultural issues that serve as a precondition for a mindful, successful and sustainable implementation of Person-centred planning that is sensitive to the philosophy and values underpinning these approaches. We will start this introduction with two theoretical models which offer both varying and connecting view- and starting points for exploring the tensions, dynamics and possibilities of organisational and especially cultural change and will serve the reader with some guidance.