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Project gives people power to transform their own lives

Posted 11:28AM on Monday 07 April 2014

A pioneering project is helping people with a learning disability, autistic spectrum condition or acquired brain injury to tailor their own support for a better life.

“The Life I Want” project has been introduced by Positive Futures with the help of Helen Sanderson Associates, the leading advocates of person–centred support.

It has already helped to give three women supported by Lakeland Supported Living Service in Fermanagh greater control of their own lives.

Positive Futures’ Chief Executive, Agnes Lunny, said: “The key difference between this and any other kind of support is that it looks not just at what’s important for the person, but what’s important to them. What’s important for them might be, for example, making sure that they’re safe. But what’s important to them are the things that make life worth living. It might be as ambitious as a desire to visit New York, or it might be more modest, like wanting to go to church on Sunday.”

One of the three women involved in the pilot project in Fermanagh, Breege Corrigan, wanted to go to bingo. Now, she attends every week with a staff member she chose to support her. Eveline Elliott has an interest in gardening. Now, she’s involved in her own gardening project, again with a staff member of her choice. Davida Monaghan is looking for a placement as a volunteer and is being supported to do so.

All three women – who share a house – have been the key players in deciding what’s best for them.  

The process starts by bringing together a team including family members, friends, professionals and other relevant people to take part in what’s known as a Planning Live event, which takes place over two days. It uses a number of person–centred tools to decide what’s working or not working in a person’s life. It then establishes what a perfect week would look like from that person’s point of view. The final step is to hold a second event to use all the information gathered to provide a package of support that’s just enough to enable people to fulfil their wishes and lead more independent lives. By avoiding “over–supporting” someone, it hands over control to the individual in question.

By empowering the people we support to make their own decisions and by challenging our own thinking about how we can fulfil these wishes, the people we support can achieve greater choice and independence to live life as they choose.

Some examples of this include:

The project is now being expanded to include everyone supported by Positive Futures’ Supported Living Services.

For more information, contact Jemma Ennis–Dawson, Project Manager, on 028 9147 5720 or  

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