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Question: I’m particularly focused on boundaries and personal choice as reminder to existing peers in their work with consumers. As happens with many of us in any human service in our desire to “help,” I’ve had a couple situations in which peer advocates have done far more for consumers than they should have. I figured a refresher training on boundaries, etc. would be good, What other resources might work for us?

I like to start with some philosophy, because the Rehabilitation Act, the first paragraph of Title VII begins with that.  It reads: The purpose of title VII of the Act is to promote a philosophy of independent living (IL), including a philosophy of consumer control, peer support, self-help, self-determination, equal access, and individual and system advocacy, in order to maximize the leadership, empowerment, independence, and productivity of individuals with disabilities, and to promote the integration and full inclusion of individuals with disabilities into the mainstream of American society…

That language – a philosophy of consumer control, self-help, self-determination … in order to maximize leadership, empowerment, independence and productivity – state our goal clearly in terms that emphasize the individual’s control of their life and decisions.

We also have a four-part series of videos around the history and how that philosophy came to be. Each is about 20 minutes and works well as part of a staff meeting. You can find these at https://www.ilru.org/il-history-and-philosophy-orientation-for-il-staff

As you move from philosophy to action,  an Introduction to Consumer Service Records, IL Plans and Service Coordination is always a good foundational piece https://www.ilru.org/introduction-consumer-service-records-independent-living-plans-and-service-coordination-for-cils

Your own written policies and procedures should mirror this philosophy and specifically state that the individual is in charge of their decisions. When it comes to helping staff understand boundaries, no tool is greater than their own experience as people with disabilities. You might help them think about scenarios in their own lives, or give sample situations for discussion and learning.

Those things should get you started. Reach out again when you are ready for more.

How do I teach consumer control to staff?

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