Person-centred planning enables woman to express herself


Non-verbal woman accesses computer that talks for her
August 31, 2011 — Deb Bartlett

One of the most rewarding moments of Lyn King’s career was hearing her name “spoken” by someone she’d supported for years.

The woman Lyn supported was non-verbal and totally dependent on others for all aspects of her care. She always wanted a voice, says Lyn. That dream was realized when Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI) staff helped acquire a specialized computer for the woman.

That’s just one example of how person-centred planning has helped people achieve goals and develop to their potential.

Lyn, the senior manager of human resources and quality assurance for BACI,  says the woman was very bright, but never had the opportunity to go to school due to “the era she was born into and circumstances of her early life.”

It was not until the woman’s father died that her siblings knew she was still alive and started to visit her. Using some inheritance money, the woman got a wheelchair.

“She was very social all of a sudden because she could see the world,” says Lyn.

The woman moved to Burnaby in 1988. “I worked with her from the day she moved into the agency here and she was always so social and so frustrated to not be able to express herself,” Lyn says.

Every year during planning, the woman communicated to staff that she wanted a voice, she wanted to help and teach people.  A staff member at GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre worked with the woman and staff on picture communication systems, and accessed a $10,000 computer that talks for her.

“This person that never went to school, never learned to read  . . . when she got her device one of the first things she did was start to spell. We never even knew she know how to spell but she found a program inside the compute,” Lyn tells the BACI Blast.

Lyn says the woman uses a two-step process to spell and “she spelled my name. Not correctly, she spelled in L-I-N but she’s one of my dearest friends in life and it was one of the most moving moments of my life when she did that.”

The woman is able to tell people what colour of shirt she wants to buy, asks to call her friends and tells staff she wants to learn to cook.

“She showed us there was somebody in there with a big voice,” says Lyn.

“She was an incredibly patient and resilient women,” says Lyn for the almost 20 years she waited for a voice. “She’s not angry or bitter or anything. She just moves forward.”

If you have feedback on this story, contact Deb at 800-294-0051, or e-mail deb(at)



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