Dr. Michael Kendrick discusses Safeguards
Q: How long have you been involved in the community living movement?
Coming up on 40 years now – I got started in the late 60s early 70s.
Q: What got you into safeguards?
A: It was the early training I had had on safeguarding thinking. In the beginning it was not so much around individuals but more about safeguarding systems. That got my interest up and I started to see how it would apply to individuals as well as safeguarding organizations and things like that. I started teaching on it because I could not find any other teaching that was directed to that. In fact, I still have not found a whole lot on it. People tend to write more on particular safeguards more than on the general theory of safeguarding. There is room for a book there that someone should write. I have been saying that for 20yrs so I may have to take that on myself.
Q: How would you explain what safeguards are to someone you meet on the street?
Well it doesn’t start with safeguards as much as it starts with a concern for people’s welfare and their well being. So if you can interest people, in people that is a very good start and secondly, to develop an ethic of personal responsibility relative to vulnerable persons. So if all of us were just a little bit more aware of people’s vulnerabilities and be concerned about them as people. That sets the stage then for the next question which is what can we do about that? And that’s the safeguarding question
Q: What can we do about that? – About Safeguarding?
Well it depends. Vulnerabilities is actually a misleading term because there are all kinds of vulnerabilities. So the safeguards have to kind of fit the particulars of what makes a particular person vulnerable. So in this sense you want to have a match between what makes a person vulnerable and what is the safeguard. For instance, if someone can’t see very well and they are crossing streets and things, then what makes them vulnerable is their limited ability to use their eyes to see danger in terms of cars and so on. And so you would want to figure out how people can be independent and get across streets and not get hurt. So you work out the safeguard according to the specifics that made you worried about in the first place.
Q: You completed an evaluation of CLBC’s safeguards initiative last year. And you wrote a report about your findings with recommendations. Let’s revisit that: firstly, why did you evaluate the safeguards initiative?
The simple answer is I was asked to because there are not that many people who can evaluate this type of thing and do this specialty type of evaluation. And I also had been involved in t early thinking of the program. It needed to be evaluated because it was a new initiative for CLBC and they wanted to get some sense of where it fit into things hence, the recommendations. So this isn’t unusual in itself. When it’s a trial thing, people tend to evaluate things and see what they should be doing or not doing. In this case, the evaluation was, relatively speaking, quite positive and that was encouraging for CLBC to keep going with it. Had the results been negative or underwhelming I don’t think there would have been much further investment. But CLBC, like myself, saw the potential to kind of carry on with some more work around safeguards so it was logical in a sense.
Q: You did the research; you evaluated CLBC’s safeguards initiative. What makes this program stand out?
Well there are a number of key features:
- There was a very strong element of education and consciousness raising in the work of the project – which is a very good fit with the community as well as the services; and the reason for that is that people do better job of safeguarding when there awareness is on it. So what CLBC did a great job at was raising awareness and consciousness of it in a way that engaged people. So that was very good for setting the stage for other things.
- The second thing is that the project was initiated by CLBC but carried out in co operation by multiple parties. So it has the effect of broadening the impact of the project, almost magnifying it through all of the partnerships which was a very good use of money because it meant that for a little bit of investment by CLBC, lots of people got involved in one way or another.,
- The third thing was a lot of people look to bureaucracy for safeguarding and this project didn’t do that, it looked at the role of the community in safeguarding. The community is much bigger and much more full of resources that any bureaucracy would be. So it tapped into a huge source of potential safeguarding and in a sense alerted people that we can do more with the community.
- The fourth thing that was interesting was that it isn’t unusual for an initiative like the safeguards initiative to be done by a non government organization but it was unusual for a government organization to be that visionary and innovative . So I thought it was a distinctly internationally significant initiative by a provincial government agency and could be a model for other governments to learn from.
Q: Elaborating on your last statement, you travel and teach all over the world. Does CLBC’s safeguards initiative stand out on a global scale?
I would say it very much stands out. It’s CLBC wanting to make a difference and wanting to stand out. It is a great example of what CLBC can do when it puts its mind to it and gets the right people involved. It’s important to note that it wasn’t just CLBC staff doing this; it was also a very strong advisory committee and lots of other people involved. So I think it was the mobilizing of talent in BC that worked and this kind of project can be modeled for other kinds of initiatives. I think the methodology is very economic and takes advantage of all the kinds of people that you can tap into in BC, people that are passionate about it. Jule exemplifies this, so she was a very good pick for this project.
Q: We now live in a world filled with new technologies. As you are out and about travelling the world do you see anything in the new world of technology that helps people with vulnerabilities?
Actually, I do see many great things that people are doing for safeguarding people. For example, using non invasive and controlling methods to support people who have behavioural issues is very good because what you do is you find a way to be gentle with people and they will react in a more controlled, way which is essentially safeguarding them.
We have people alive today that would have died 20-25 years ago because their health care was not up to it. So we have much better safeguards on medical issues if we apply them. So we have had a kind of miracle in extending the lives of people with disabilities. This is a sign that if you are doing the right thing people will flourish.
Another great one is people with disabilities who are now working today. It’s a safeguard that if you invest in the vision of the work potential for people, then their lives becomes enriched. We get all these cases of people working that would have been in a sheltered setting and now they are out there making a contribution, in work places and part of the community.
We have the ability to individualize service so that everyone gets the service that fits them. It’s like shoes, you get the right shoe that fits to your foot. And a very good safeguard is person centred services.
These are all examples of positive practices that have a safeguarding element and have been created by pioneering and innovation so that we can now use these things that we couldn’t have done a generation back. The state of the art has improved, we need to follow through on it and disseminate the better end of what has been developed. We need to be better at that. We need to take it to the next step, have an organized adoption and move forward.
Dr. Michael Kendrick’s evaluation of CLBC’s Safeguards Initiative is available on the CLBC website under Individuals & Families > Safeguards.
To learn more about Dr. Michael Kendrick, please visit his website at www.kendrickconsulting.org.