“Each person CLBC supports is unique and it’s important for us to recognize that.
We’re here to be person-centred,” says James White, Community Planning and Development Manager in CLBC’s Vancouver office.
James has worked in the community living field for over 30 years, including previous roles with Semiahmoo House Society in Surrey where he was involved in delivering training on Essential Lifestyle Planning to CLBC staff in Richmond and Kelowna when CLBC was first established in 2005.
He later joined CLBC as a facilitator in 2008 and has been the CP & D Manager for Vancouver since 2014.
“It was very easy for me to transition from working for service provider agencies that have a person-centred approach to CLBC which shares that same philosophy,” says James. “It was great to join an organization that embraces the same philosophy as I do.”
In addition to overseeing services for individuals and families and leading his team in the Vancouver office, James supports self-advocates and families to get involved with the Vancouver Community Council, and works to build relationships and open lines of communication with many partners in the local community including the school board, health authorities and the City of Vancouver.
Person-centred philosophy has always been at the core of James’s approach to working with individuals and families, “I really want people to feel that they’re an individual and not a number, and to keep the process of getting supports and services personalized.
Of course there is consistency in our practices, but we have to look at each person as a unique individual.”
James has high praise for his staff in the Vancouver office and sees himself as a resource who is able to share what he’s learned throughout his career, “They’re a great team and basically I try to let them pick my brain to get an understanding of what our purpose is as CLBC staff in helping to get supports in place that individuals and families need.
I also help them develop tools and skills like listening to families and truly hearing what they have to say.”
James’s passion for person-centred philosophy extends beyond his day-to-day work at CLBC.
In his own time, he travels to an annual event called The Gathering, an educational conference hosted by The Learning Community for Person Centred Practices each year in Portland, Oregon.
He sits on a committee that helps set the conference agenda and supports the inclusion of self advocate-focused content. James has also delivered several presentations including sharing information about B.C.’s leadership in the area of representation agreements.
In past years, self advocates have attended the conference virtually by delivering presentations through a Skype video connection from the Vancouver office.
This year however, James helped to arrange funding through the Learning Community’s scholarship fund for Ryan Groth and Michael Mclellan to join him in person at the conference.
Ryan and Michael delivered a presentation on one-page employment profiles, a tool used to support individuals in finding work, and also hosted a workshop on supported decision making.
“The Learning Community is a group that is really practicing that person-centred philosophy and it just hones my skills in that area every year that I attend,” says James.
James is also a mentor for Empowering Self Advocates to Take Action (ESATTA), an entrepreneurial co-operative of self advocates who deliver paid presentations and sessions on a range of topics and use their own life experiences and skills to teach others.
Among the many presentations ESATTA delivers is People Planning Together, a two-day training program delivered by self advocates with a strong person-centred emphasis.
“I’m a big advocate for supporting individuals to have their say,” says James. “I like to try walk the talk, as they say.”
When he’s not in the office or liaising with partners in community, you can usually find James in the great outdoors enjoying his other passions for hiking and kayaking.
He recently scaled the Kokanee Glacier and his previous adventures include climbing Tanzania’s Mt. Kilimanjaro with his friend Ryan.
James’s passion and dedication to his role are apparent to anyone who works with him.
“James really has a genuine commitment to the work and to the people CLBC supports,” says Jean-Claude Ndungutse, Quality Service Manager for Vancouver.
“He’s knowledgeable and is also very anchored in his beliefs. He’s a great person to work with in every aspect of his role.”
Person-centred Tools & Resources
This plain-language guide was developed by CLBC with extensive input from self-advocates and supports adults with developmental disabilities to lead their own decision making process and develop a person-centred plan.
This global learning community supports people to have positive control over the lives they have chosen for themselves, and includes links to articles and resources that focus on person-centred practices.
On this page you can find information about practices and tools, including community circles and one-page profiles, that make sure people are truly listened to and kept at the heart of all decision-making.
In this story published on SelfAdvocateNet.com, learn how Cheryl used the person-centred PATH process to make decisions about her goals and plan for the future.