Each disability organisation has its own history, its own skill set and a vision different enough from other organisations to matter.
It is this organisational culture that separates your people from others. This is a subtle thing to see from the inside. I’ve worked across several organisations in my time and whilst each may be focused upon “People Centred Planning” or an holistic approach to service, each one has done the job differently.
These differences are driven, in large part by both the history of the organisation and the people they work with.
A brief story. I worked for a mob, no names, who specialised in clients with a diagnosis of intellectual disability. They had stepped in, where I was working, to look after a new group of ex-boarding house residents whose diagnoses were complex. They usually involved a combination of a mental health diagnosis and substance dependence, mostly alcohol along with long periods of life unhoused and or in institutions. The mob I worked for had designed some Person Centred Planning (PCP) tools of a very basic information gathering nature. They were, however, designed for the organisation’s intellectual disability diagnosed clients.
All hell broke loose when these people from head office descended upon our people with these PCP tools. Our people saw the tools as juvenile and using them as an attempt to belittle them and dismiss their cognitive capacity.
The head office types called a staff meeting and were shocked and surprised to find we were of the same opinion. After the third staff member had given them a gob full, they closed the meeting and were never seen on site again. We developed appropriate tools by talking to our people and gathering the required data and planning systems that worked in our context.
The point I’m trying to make is that each organisation has a dominant cultural expression. This is their expertise. The original tools were ideal for the core clients of the organisation. They weren’t with our people.
The worst of it was the inability to understand just how well designed those original tools were. They could have formed the basis for a whole season on what that organisation could bring to a prospective client. They really were very good. Reasonably well medicated and relatively sober 50 somethings were not impressed by “Bunny Rabbits” and “fairies” helping them through the process.
Look at your internal tools, how do they reflect your ability to support your people? This is where your expertise lies. Do not be afraid to sing it from the hill tops. Over how many years your organisation has run, it has accumulated knowledge, a culture, a way of helping that, whilst meeting NDIS standards, is unique and worth celebrating.
One of the great benefits of podcasting is that we can craft our knowledge, our understanding and deliver it without having to look anyone in the eye. This is not a lack of courage but an artefact of the medium. It allows us to refine our understandings and present them in a meaningful way. And the very fact your organisation has a podcast will add authority to that expertise, another artefact of the medium.
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