Results at the end of the Person-Centered System Design Project in the Words of Project Participants (Faribault-Martin Counties 1994-1996):

“The project opened up people’s eyes so they could look at services and programs in a different way.”

Changes in the Lives of Individuals Who Receive Services

“People’s lives are more real.”

“People are seen as people more- not as their diagnosis or as ‘special’.”

“More people are living in a place of their own that they chose, with people they want to live with.”

“More people are employed in community jobs, and are making more money.”

Many people joined community organizations like the Knights of Columbus, tractor club, fitness clubs, and are regularly volunteering at places like the opera house, library, nursing homes, preschools, and the natural food store.

People went on dates for the first times. One person’s family got together for the first time in twenty years.

Planning Meetings are More Person-Centered

“We hear more what their wants really are, they’re asking about what’s available…that never used to come out at all.”

 “Everyone looks forward to meetings more. It used to be said after meetings, you’d hear, ‘That wasn’t so bad was it?’ Now meetings are more darn fun. They’re a heck of a lot more meaningful.”

“People are happy to go to meetings- we don’t see behaviors two week ahead of time like we used to. Individuals with disabilities feel they’re planning the meeting- they’re part of it.”

“Before, mom felt someone else was in control, you had to wait til you go an opening…now there’s more time for personal concerns.”

System Changes

“Case managers and the county are more open to trying things. Money used to be a stop, no it’s ‘let’s try to find the money somewhere’.”

“The system is becoming more consumer-friendly.”

“We’re pushing boundaries.”

Changes in Internal Agency Atmosphere

“Staff have done a good job about becoming more open themselves. Our think has kind of turned.”

“We got out of a rut, started thinking more in terms of things people can do.”

“We’ve gone further, never looked at it that way before.”

“We’re not getting bogged down in the day-to-day life of documentation.”

Inter-Agency Cooperation

“Overall bonding in the agencies working together, boding between agencies- we focus on the individual more instead of against each other.”

“One program director who had complained for years about meetings with other agencies, at the end of the project reported, “Our meetings with them are good.”

“Better working relationships between organizations…we’re seeing things we haven’t seen before.”

“We’re talking as individuals not as agencies.”


“Changed my way of thinking about “community” integration, changing agency structures to work on helping individuals make friends.”


“The speaker’s enthusiasm for her subject and vividness of the presentation make it very valuable.”

“I learn so much more from this type of presentation – when REAL stories are used as examples.”

“Appreciated the examples of people who are more severely disabled.”


Human Services Research & Development Center
1195 Juno Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55116