Interactionz's journey towards person-driven practice

The idea of 'person-driven practice' started 20-years ago when I  took on the task of leading Interactionz (or Hamilton Workshops and Training Centre) as it was known then. Of course it did not have the title 'person-driven practice' in 1999, but having had no experience in the disability sector I had no preconceived ideas of what was right and what was wrong. On the surface, the idea of providing jobs for people who might otherwise struggle to find employment seemed like a great idea.  However I also saw the reality of the conditions that were provided for people were not ideal. Segregated environments, run-down buildings, no employment or health and safety legislation to protect the workers, little or no pay in return for completing full days and doing often quite complex (or mundane) tasks, and the attitudes of staff toward people. This lead me to start to think that something needs to change, and so the journey began.

In the early days, whilst we believed in the need to change we also had a lot to learn.  We invested in knowledge acquisition trips overseas to see examples first hand of others who had made this transition, so that we could show families and the persons we serve that there is another way.  We started to use the term 'person-driven practice a few years later to differentiate our practice from the commonly used term 'person-centred practice'. Person-centred practice meant a person needed to fit into an organisation structure and set of programmes.  Our point of difference was to start with the person and what their goals and aspirations were.  Over the years we have continued to invest in research and continue to demonstrate person driven practice in action.

The training packages we provide today, over 20-years later, have been developed from our history, experience, stories and evidence. We have influenced the development of the EGL principles, and created a language that others use readily.  

Author: Lynda Millington, Chief Executive (1999 - 2020)