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Sharing person-centred practice in India – the trip of a lifetime

photo of female staff member
By George Sinclair, Assistant Locality Manager

The team and I have just touched down from our trip to India where we were sharing person-centred practice.

All I can say is wow – what an insightful and activity packed week!

The experience has made me spend time reflecting – not just on my work life but my personal life too.

It was an emotional rollercoaster, with the different places we visited and the warmth and hospitality shown to us.

During our stay we visited many schools and colleges including two schools for people with learning disabilities. We also visited what our Indian colleagues call ‘an institute for people who are mentally challenged’.

The passion, appreciation and genuine love shown for the people being supported made me think “what inspirational people we have encountered here in India”!

Everyone we met, including those being supported, were so happy and content it made me realise how much we take the small things for granted. Not just at work, but our personal lives too.

I found part of the trips both touching and emotional
I found part of the trips both touching and emotional

There is so much we could do as an organisation to help these institutions become more person-centred . We could start with a one page profile and build on that to eventually help these people become part of their communities.

We soon found that family and community are extremely important aspects to our Indian peers. Appreciation, love and determination is at the heart of everything they do.

Students we met at one of the colleges
Students we met at one of the colleges

Our colleagues at IPCAI (The Institute for Person Centred Approaches in India) are extremely committed to pioneering changing attitudes towards, not just those with learning disabilities, but to anyone that may need a little extra support.

On our final day we attended a conference which IPCAI had invited us to. It was to celebrate success and share experience and knowledge.

We gained a proper insight into what IPCAI are trying to achieve – to educate their members on how to improve other people’s lives and how to do it.

Paul, Sonya and I ran a workshop on person-centred reviews to a large audience and we heard some inspirational stories on how others had managed to help achieve great things through being person-centred.

Some of the people supported in India
Some of the people supported in India

After experiencing this, my head was spinning with questions… do we use person-centred thinking tools because we have to, or do we use them because we genuinely feel we want to make a difference?

Do we include the people we support’s family as much as we should? Do we show appreciation towards the people we support’s gifts and talents as much as we should?

Do we appreciate our staff team’s hard work as much as we should?

It seems appreciation and involvement are a running theme in India. They’re the main things I took away from this experience and something I plan on actioning.

During the conference I finally met my India buddy Sachin! Sachin and I had been partners in the buddy programme and after only emailing, texting and skyping for what felt like a lifetime I finally got to him in person.

Sachin presented me with a gift – a beautiful caricature picture of myself in a sari with an elephant in the background (I remember telling Sachin that elephants were my favourite animal some time ago).

My wonderful gift from Sachin (far left)
My wonderful gift from Sachin (far left)

I was almost reduced to tears by the thoughtfulness, kindness and generosity shown by this gesture and that alone sums up just how amazing the people we met were.

The warmth, hospitality and kindness shown to all of us made me reflect on my life and I thought….what can I do to be a better person?

I have taken away so much from this trip and learnt so much more.

I am so proud of everything we all achieved in India and I am looking forward to seeing how far IPCAI come (with the help of Dimensions and Helen Sanderson Associates) and the great things we can achieve together.

I have met some amazing people who I aspire to be like and better yet, I’ve made some fantastic new friends.

Me, the team and our colleagues in India
Me, the team and our colleagues in India