Hello friends, my name is Tramus. I have hijacked Dale's blog to give you a message. I am from the future, the year 2050. If you read Dale's blog, you must be what you used to call, a "disability service provider." You probably have a building where people come to learn or work. Or a facility where the state pays you to house people with disabilities. Here's the thing - I am here to warn you - you will become obsolete.
We found that it was a waste to build walls around people because they were slower, looked or acted differently, or had trouble learning. Turns out that when your goal is to help people who face challenges in life to have a good life, they have to actually be in real life to get anywhere. In our time, we found that we could provide much better assistance to people with "disabilities" (we got rid of that word a while ago) by supporting and opening up their own communities around them.
Everyone has people they like to be with, things they really like to do, and everyone has something within them that can be productive for a business. Once you recognize that fact, you can help people build a decent home and work life.
I have to tell you, it amazes me how long people can tolerate spending billions on things that are shown to have poor outcomes. Of course, it was that way with climate change, I guess. By the time there was a consensus, we had to abandon half our coastal cities.
Anyway, here's my advice.
Stop protecting your buildings, your programs, your job descriptions, and territory. Protect people's rights to belong instead.
Stop trying to fix people's shortcomings to make them community-ready. Assume they are a part of the community and start focusing on what people can do there successfully.
Let go of your precious budgets tied to programs and buildings. Money should be attached to the people you serve.
Remember to redefine your goals. No one needs a workshop. People do need help with jobs. No one needs a group home or an institution. People do need help to live in a nice home. Don't confuse your tools with the goals. The goals are life; you just invented the tools, and they might not work the best. When you use the wrong tool, you sometimes mess up the goal. Ever try to hammer a nail with the back of a screwdriver?
You have limited resources and you must spend them wisely. Every facility program takes something away from community building. Stop filling the buildings. Instead expand the variety of supports people can tap when they are working, at home, or in their communities.
If you start now, you can be part of the change. Thanks for listening! I will now return the next regularly scheduled blog back to Dale.