Words are powerful. The language we use shapes ideas and beliefs. With that in mind, Ranch Ehrlo has made the decision to change the name of our program for adults and young people with multiple, complex developmental needs.
The Program for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) will now be called the Supported Living Program (SLP).
“Supported Living Programs or SLP will describe the service provided, rather than label the person served,” David Rivers, the vice-president of clinical services, said.
Jane Powell, director of clinical services added, “We know that best practice is to use people first language, which emphasizes the person, not the disability so that the disability is no longer the defining characteristic of an individual, but one of several aspects of the whole person.”
A people first perspective eliminates generalizations and stereotypes by focusing on the individual rather than the disability. Our words and the meanings we attach to them create attitudes, drive social policies and laws, influence our feelings and decisions, and affect people’s daily lives.
“Renaming our programs to supported living reflects and reinforces the person-centered values of mutual respect and shared power with the people that live in homes and utilize the supports,” Monica Rivers, a clinical consultant in the program, stated.
“The use of inclusive language such as this is empowering; it acknowledges the contribution of the participants in the program. Removing program labels helps reduce stigma. Labels are for jars, not people.”
The Ranch is used to understanding the importance of language and making changes. For example, in our SLP program, we refer to the people participating in our programs as ‘participants’ instead of ‘clients.’ For the SLP, this is their home and they participate in programming.
Young people and adults also are at the Ranch for care and support as opposed to using the word treatment since once again, our programs are their homes, not a treatment centre.
Dawn Ziffle, a clinical consultant, said PDD focuses on disabilities and paints the program in that light.
“Renaming the programs focuses on the positive qualities of the participants,” Dawn said. “We are supporting them to live as independently as possible, this is more strength based and positive.”