Person centred practice is a major part of what we do as learning disability nurses.
We put the person central to everything we do, ensuring that the service we are providing is not about making our client fit the service, but making that service fit the client.
But is it, is it really?
Another learning disability student nurse on my cohort made me realise very recently that while I may be talking the talk, I was most definitely not walking the walk.
I was quite happily assisting with health action plans for a service, thinking that I was including the patient, but in reality I was churning out very generic documents.
My friend was on a placement in a setting where the clients had very mild learning disabilities and she was assisting with health action plans too. The men she was working with refused to help fill in the documents, so she was finding it difficult to class the work as person centred. The service setting was happy to carry on with the plans ‘as it was the men’s choice not to be involved’, as far as person centred practice went the service were complying.
It is all too easy to become complacent and think that you are treating people as individuals when in fact you are just ticking a box
Made of sterner stuff she decided to find out why the men didn’t want to be involved with their own person centred plans. It turns out that they felt insulted by all the pictures and the presumptions that they could not read and they were not happy to all be classed the same.
So she worked with every individual client and they made the documents together. Once completed the men were happy to fill them in.
What she had achieved was truly person centred, she not only created a working document that was completely relevant to each specific person, she had empowered the clients to assist in the creation of the document.
This was a wakeup call for me, it is all too easy to become complacent and think that you are treating people as individuals when in fact you are just ticking a box.
I will most definitely stop and think about everything that I do which is considered to be person centred, I suggest you all do the same.