Independent facilitation and planning entails people with disabilities, their families and support networks having ongoing access to an independent facilitator that listens deeply, provides information, and assists with planning, network development, negotiation, relationship building, community development, based on the strengths, capacities, and self-determination of the person.
Independent facilitation and planning provides individuals and their families with a safe vehicle for thinking about their lives. With experienced independent facilitators in place, people are able to focus on “community” and “possibilities” that can lead to increased citizenship and participation.
(Rationale for Independent Planning and Facilitation in Ontario: Why MCSS Should Move Quickly to Implementation, IFCO, November, 2006)
- Take Direction
- Broaden Networks
- Build Capacity
- Foster Resilience
- Acknowledge Gifts
- Offer Assistance
- Document & Review
- Community Development
Take Direction from the Person
Independent facilitation acknowledges that each person has the capacity to express their will and their preferences in some way and can be involved in directing and taking charge of the key decisions in their life to the extent possible.
Listening, Drawing out, and Strengthening the Individual’s Voice:
Independent facilitation is focused on taking direction from the individual and helping them to develop a stronger sense of self and a vision for the future. This involves being present and listening in such a way that the individual strengthens their voice and their capacity to speak up for themselves in whatever way possible.
Helping the Person be Understood and Heard by Others:
The role of helping individuals be better understood and heard by others is a vital safeguard in all respects.
Make a Long Term Commitment
Those experienced with independent facilitation understand that to work meaningfully with individuals and families one must make a long-term commitment because trust builds over time. This commitment is about entering into a relationship and discovering what is possible and even desirable over time.
Encourage holding a Vision and imagining better:
Independent facilitators have numerous ways of encouraging and assisting individuals to develop a vision for their lives and be able to speak to others about that vision.
Carefully ask the tough Questions :
Independent facilitators help everyone understand and recognize the ongoing necessity for thinking things through carefully and evaluating whether things are working or not. At times, they assist by causing people to pause and ask themselves tough questions that they may have been avoiding. Basically, this involves getting people to be more reflective and having them stop and think before acting. This planful approach is a really valuable safeguard to decision making.
Believe in the Person:
A fundamental belief of independent facilitation is that the individual is capable of being a creative source in his or her own life. Facilitators nurture a sense of possibility and self- reflection. They are aware of the importance of ongoing conversations and the need to create opportunities for people to share their stories and inspire one another to take risks. They have a deep understanding of social devaluation and the need to put in place safeguarding strategies so that the individual can avoid further devaluation.
Broaden and Strengthen Social Networks
Independent Facilitation acknowledges the centrality of helping to broaden and strengthen the individual’s and the family’s social networks.
Support for Decision Making:
Independent facilitators assist in bringing people together intentionally to aid the individual in supported decision making and entering into planning conversations. This broadening of the conversation with others, assists greatly in gaining fresh insights into not only the challenges that they are dealing with but also the resources that can be brought to bear
Strengthen Families by bringing them Together
Independent Facilitators also help to strengthen families by introducing them to other families who may have similar experiences and who may be able to offer mutual support.
Independent facilitation is committed to building capacity among individuals and families.
Valued Social Roles:
Facilitators can help families better understand the impact of supporting adults to have valued social roles in the community and how that can happen. They assist individuals to have a better sense of self and personal identity as they begin to explore work, leisure and community roles.
Capacity For Managing Support Workers:
They are able to strengthen the individual’s and family’s capacity for hiring, training and managing support workers for direct funding arrangements. This acts as a tremendous support for ensuring individuals get the most from their one on one support workers.
Independent facilitation fosters resilience within families.
A leading premise of the work is to believe in and be present to the resilience of families. Facilitators set out to help families grow stronger by helping them identify their own capacity for coping and “doing the right thing” with and on behalf of their sons and daughters.
Acknowledge People’s Gifts
Independent facilitation is committed to helping those surrounding the individual acknowledge their gifts and what they have to contribute to their communities.
Offer Assistance Through Difficult Times
Independent facilitation can assist individuals and families through difficult times and help to sort through conflicts.
They also play a role in walking alongside families in times of vulnerability and weakness when they feel stuck and unable to act. At these times, the independent facilitator’s role is to remain steadfast, listen deeply and help the family understand and acknowledge where they are at. They can also help them determine what kind of support would be most useful in gaining back the will to act.
Independent Facilitators are skilled at facilitating safe conversations that are aimed at sorting through conflicts, big and small, in a way that honours the individual and the individual’s vulnerabilities. They are able to bring a neutral voice and offer a process for gaining clarity regarding the conflict at hand.
Independent Facilitators can help support individuals and their families to avert crisis by identifying potential problems before they have a negative impact and to develop back up plans. Sometimes it is essential for independent facilitators to point out the implications of not taking action.
Document Plans, Review Actions:
Independent facilitation and planning recognizes the importance of documenting plans and action steps and regularly reviewing and evaluating their usefulness.
A key role for independent facilitators is to ensure that there are reliable ways to capture planning conversations and track action steps so that they can be reviewed and revised over time. The focus is on putting together concrete, thoughtful plans for taking the next step and ensuring that they are aligned with the individual’s vision for the future.
Commit to Community Development and Innovation
An essential aspect of the long-term commitment Independent Facilitators make is the possibility it creates for using more collaborative, community development oriented approaches. There is more potential for finding synergistic remedies to challenges that an individual may be facing, among a number of people and organizations. Independent Facilitators assist individuals and their families to explore and develop significant membership in community places and within community organizations.
Independent facilitation organizations are committed to sharing ideas among families and exposing them to innovative practices and ideas from diverse places and organizations. They encourage dialogue between different government sectors so that best practices can be developed and obstacles can be addressed.