Person-centredness is not simply a matter of doing whatever is wanted by the person or those around them at a given moment. It is a struggle trying to discover what is best for people, as this is not something that is always so obvious.

Great comfort and reassurance is taken from the slogan “one person at a time.” One must also remember that it is possible to neglect and disappoint people “one person at a time” (Michael Kenderick). Sometimes what people seem to want for themselves, at least initially, is self-destructive and/or ill-advised in other ways. When this becomes evident [to whoever is authentically participating in the process] the focal person needs to be challenged on such stated preferences and goals. Often, there is a reluctance to challenge focal people on such views for fear that they [the person viewing the challenge/request for clarification] will be seen as controlling or paternalistic. There is a tension, an inherent tension, that we have to stay with and work through rather than short-circuit if we are to stay true to the promotion of best interests-based person-centred planning.

The particular balance is captured very well by Pat Fratangelo from Onondaga Community Living in upstate New York: We see our role as that of being committed to people and their best interests while at the same time letting the person be as central as possible to how this question gets answered.”

Signed: Brendan Broderick, CEO.

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