People-Centred Processes

The application of a “people-centred” approach to service integration is one of four key principles that underlie effective service integration initiatives.

What do you call the people who receive service from you? Clients? Tenants? Participants? Patients? Parents? Users of service? These terms, attached to different programs and different situations, obscure a singular reality, i.e., they are all simply (and complexly) people.

To make a program or a service really responsive to, and able to fulfill the needs of, people, they must be at the centre of it. All decisions need to be screened through a lens which asks: what would best assist this person at this particular time?

When you put people at the centre of a situation, one thing becomes clear very quickly: although we may organize our response to needs through programs which operate in boxes, people themselves are not organized in boxes.

People are, in fact, a rich and dynamic mix of strengths and weaknesses, and assets and challenges. What happens in one part of a person’s life will inevitably have an impact on some other part of that person’s life.

Our programs and services are not, however, traditionally organized this way. Instead, we respond to this “piece” of a person’s experience here and that “segment” of a person’s reality there.

Human services integration is about responding to the whole person, not just a “piece” of that person, the piece normally being determined by the program we deliver.

Looking through the People-Centred Lens

When we look through a people-centred lens, there are two critical questions we need to ask.

First, we have to ask “in what way can I respond to this person as a whole person?” As soon as this question is asked, the possibility emerges of there being needs that do not fit in your program “box”. As this wider range of needs is identified, figuring out how you will respond to these needs requires you to think beyond your own program to the wider range of supports and resources which could be accessed by the person. As soon as this happens, you are starting a conversation about how your program could more effectively interact with other programs and, ultimately, you are starting to consider how service integration might improve service to the person.

Second, we have to ask “how can I best determine what this person’s needs really are?” Historically, our response to this question has often been shaped by what we know as professionals and by program philosophy, which gets reflected in rules and regulations. And while there is good reason that these should continue to shape our response to the question, being people-centred requires that we also consider what people themselves have to say about their needs, at both the individual level as well as at a program and system level. People are often the best experts on their own lives.

Key Questions

Here are some questions to help you think through becoming more people-centred in your service delivery:

  • How do you currently determine what service participants as a group need and expect from your services? What could you do differently or introduce to assist with this?
  • What new structures and processes could help you better respond to these needs and expectations?
  • To make these changes, do you need to change:
    • structures and processes?
    • organizational culture?
    • mission?
    • core values?
  • What processes could you put in place to facilitate the introduction of these changes:
    • in the planning of services?
    • in the implementation of services?

Find out more about:

  • Systems Thinking

Additional Information