The Importance of Having a Person-Centred Approach
In Estonia, persons with disabilities are entitled to rehabilitation services, so in order to ensure that services are successful, the government has made efforts to modernize its system. To understand how clients feel about these services, Karin Hanga and colleagues conducted interviews with 12 individuals about their previous experiences with disability services and the newly-implemented initial rehabilitation needs assessment questionnaire to determine if the Estonian disability system is providing a person-centred approach. This approach views the person as the expert in his or her life and as an active participant in the rehabilitation process.
The authors found that in the past, individuals often felt that they did not receive sufficient information, were not heavily involved, were not understood by specialists, and felt their needs were not met. In regard to the newly designed initial rehabilitation needs assessment, their responses were quite different: They felt heard, the process helped them feel empowered and better understand their situation, and they felt like a partnership was developed with the specialist.
This new system is a step in the right direction to a more person-centred approach, but more has to be done. The authors recommend that person-centeredness be consciously implemented in the initial rehabilitation needs assessment and other disability services; it should be fixed within the legal framework, social services quality standards, and detailed work regulations; and finally, it should be an essential component of specialists’ training in order to increase their knowledge and ability to carry out a person-centred approach.