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The Role of Information in Supporting People with Disabilities Return to Independence

Bernadette Cassidy, Allan Bean Centre for Research and Learning in Rehabilitation
Co-author(s): Dr. Said Shahtahmasebi


The Allan Bean Centre (ABC), in Christchurch, New Zealand provides a range of services and resources for people recovering from serious injury and illness. Rehabilitation starts from day one. The rehabilitation process at the ABC is essentially educational not medical, and follows the Independent Living (IL) model of rehabilitation. The philosophy of the centre, 'It's great to be alive', provides a pathway to a society that values ability and diversity and provides hope. 'Health professionals are on tap, not on top!'

The model encourages the patients and their families and whanau (Maori word for family and support network) to contribute and direct the process of recovery with a goal to reentering and maximizing their potential within the general community. This is a different and unique approach in New Zealand allowing patients' needs to be the driving force behind the rehabilitation process. For patients to be in the driving seat of their rehabilitation they must have access to quality information. If the recovering person is to take responsibility to drive his/her own rehabilitation towards independence, then the provision of access to the 'vehicle' must be complemented with a quality and well-defined map.

In this paper, we report on the development of the library and information service 'the quality map' to assist the recovering person to make well-informed and evidence-based decisions.

The recovering person needs access to a range of resources whether it is information about their condition, pain management, or retraining and redirection. The model adopted by the librarian follows a dynamic approach of assessing the needs of its clients by continually consulting all stakeholders. The ABC is not a conventional rehabilitation model and, therefore, the library and information system has to meet the challenges of providing unconventional (as well as conventional), but appropriate and relevant services. In this context, the ABC information/library service is holistic and evidence-based due to the needs assessment of its clients and the continual consultation of all stakeholders. One of the advantages of this model is the move away from resource-based learning towards client centred learning.

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