Expanding our Horizons

Month: December, 2013

Our Core Values

I have been writing about Person Centered Thinking but I want to be sure you know that it is not a huge shift for us. I am proud of the fact that we have always been person centered. All of us at Horizons share our core value of ‘fostering growth and independence for the people we serve’. The difference is that we now have tools that will help us see situations not only from our perspective but from the perspective of the individual, his or her family, and the community.

Another of our core values is ‘the paramount importance of health and safety for our clients’. This core value is really a statement of what is important for someone. As you can imagine, it can conflict with what is important to someone. Drinking Mountain Dew all day might be important to someone but is detrimental to their health. I doubt any of us would like it if someone – even if they care deeply about us – told us we had to drink less coffee, wine, beer (insert your favorite beverage). In situations like this, we typically negotiate to try find a replacement for the Mountain Dew. It doesn’t always work. We can’t prevent people from making poor choices if they live on their own and have money to buy whatever it is they want to drink. Another of our core values is ‘a never ending quest for creative solutions’. What that means to me is that we would try to think of lots of alternatives to drinking Mountain Dew all day and would use our influence to try to get the person to make a different choice. Maybe going out to lunch to celebrate a week of limiting Mountain Dew to once a day?Maybe a favorite activity with a favorite person to celebrate two weeks of limiting Mountain Dew to once a day? When you are committed to thinking creatively, there are many options.

A favorite activity with a favorite person

A favorite activity with a favorite person

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Person Centered Thinking: A real life example

I have been telling you about new tools we learned at our Person Centered Thinking training. Now I want to give you an example of how it works in real life.

Amanda, our Supported Living Services Coordinator, met with someone in her program who was struggling to find balance in his life. That’s not uncommon for any of us, is it? He had taken on a lot of responsibilities such as extra shifts at work and volunteering at a smoothie shop. His schedule included a 40 hour a week job, a college level reading class, and his volunteer work. He and Amanda worked through the important to and important for exercise which helped him realize how important the volunteer position was to him. Rather than adding to his stress, his time at the smoothie shop was an opportunity to relax and see his friends. He and Amanda met with the owners of the smoothie shop who encouraged him to take more time for himself. Because he realizes that his time at the shop is, in fact, time for himself, he did not want to reduce his hours. He and the shop owners had a chance to clarify that he was not responsible for covering shifts at the shop when they are short staffed. That conversation helped him establish boundaries which reduced his stress.

A Person Centered Thinking success story! I am sure there will be many more. Using what’s important to and what’s important for helps us gain a deeper understanding of the person while working toward a good balance. It also helps us work in partnership with the person and those who love him or her. Small groups of staff have already met to create a plan for incorporating more of our new tools into our culture.