Healing Integrity Gaps – John O’Brien

Person Led Support Planning

When they need publicly commissioned assistance, people with learning disabilities have to enact their freedom under more constraints than other citizens do. Many laws and policies have not caught up with the ideas that people should be able to lead an ordinary life with the support they need and that people themselves should be in charge of decision making about their lives. This means that people’s lives are lived in view of many eyes and under the influence of many voices that claim the right to determine what is legal or appropriate for them: politicians, civil servants, commissioners, inspectors, investigators, managers and lawyers for commissioners and managers all have a say about the conditions under which people and those in direct relationship with them live. Almost always these voices are speaking generally about a group of people with learning disabilities. What an inspector discovers in reviewing a file and perhaps having a brief meeting is evidence to inform the inspector’s judgment about the level of quality of a service, not an intervention into the particular person’s life. However, when people with authority speak generally about what must and must not be done, their voices can be so loud as to drown out people’s own voices and the voices of those who know and care about them.

O’Brien Integrity Gaps 2 copy

Valuing People, 15 years old (Community Living Magazine)

Valuing People, 15 years old – destination reached, stalled or derailed?
When it was launched there was cross-party support for the Valuing People White Paper (DoH, 2001) which set out a new strategy for learning disability for the 21st century to im- prove the lives of people with learning disabilities.

Valuing People said: “People with learning disabilities are amongst the most vulnerable and socially excluded in our society. Very few have jobs, live in their own homes or have choice over who cares for them. This needs to change: people with learning disabilities must no longer be marginalised or excluded. Valuing People sets out how the Government will provide new opportunities for children and adults with learning disabilities and their families to live full and independent lives as part of their communities.”

Using the Valuing People categories a team from Paradigm asked self advocates, advo- cates, families, commissioners, support providers, health/social care workers, and policy makers what has changed over the last 15 years.

You can see the full article here: Valuing People, 15 years old (Community Living Magazine)

We must NEVER settle for anything less…

Thank you to Rosemary over at the Community Living Magazine, who recently posted a saddening, yet inspiring video that came about after the death of Connor Sparrowhawk in his care home.

As Rosemary says, “This short but telling film – sadly this is what too often is found in so-called Assessment and Treatment units – because it’s not a place which makes any sense to people already struggling. What they need is the right kind of help in the place they want to be in by people who care….. with contingency plans ready if there’s a crisis – and local mental health and physical health beds with proper adjustments if they are ill.”

We must NEVER settle for anything less.

Follow the latest on the 107 Days of Action blog to see how important action really is.


Re-connecting hearts and minds the start of the Ordinary Life for All Network

In 2012 at Paradigm’s we were getting more and more concerned about what we see as the ‘over professionalisation’ of support.   Systems and processes which get on the way of people living an ordinary life.   We decided to invite John O’Brien and David Towell to facilitate what we called the, ‘Re-connecting Heart and Mind’ workshop.   John asked the group this question: ‘What threatens an organisation’s ability to support relationships that connect the heart and the mind?’

The discussion that followed was powerful.  Engaging our hearts and minds, highlighted the potential negative power of the service system and reminded us that it is all of us – the people supported, families, community and paid staff – not government or regulators who have the ability to remove the barriers to the ordinary life that so many people want.

The people the workshop committed to creating a network to ensure some action – the start of the Ensuring an Ordinary Life Network.  To read the summary of the days conversation and the resulting action see the Ordinary Life section of our website.

By a slightly random set of connections (always the best) Steve Coogan ended up coming along to the end of the day.  Hence the photo.  It’s a long story!

We are in process of preparing the workshop and activity programme for Ordinary Life Network in 2014/15.  If you are interested in becoming a member contact:  Sallyw@paradigm-uk.org

"Thank you!
Great event! "

Find out more


“The course was mind-blowing, inspiring, nurturing, challenging, emotional, motivating and rewarding (to name just a few things)." Marie-Claire

Read more >