Options approach to supporting people incorporates the thinking of John O’Brien, a great advocate for people with disabilities.  He has spent time talking with and exploring ideas with our staff in the past and we continue to reference his research and ideas.


John O’Brien’s Five Essential Service Accomplishments were aimed at focusing and guiding staff in their work. The accomplishments describe worthy consequences of supported activities. Each accomplishment supports what is considered to be a vital aspect of human experience which common practice often limits for people with severe disabilities.

Each accomplishment recognises the interdependence that exists between individuals, and challenges and strengthens the relationship between people with disabilities and other community members. The aim was to ensure that a human service programme, focused on community participation, would assist people with severe disabilities to form and maintain the variety of ties and connections that constitute community life.

Community Presence:

The right to take part in community life and to live and spend leisure time with other members of the community.


The right to experience valued relationships with non-disabled people.


The right to make choices, both large and small, in one’s life. These include choices about where to live and with whom to live.


The right to learn new skill and participate in meaningful activities with whatever assistance is required.


The right to be valued and not treated as a second-class citizen.


Taken from “A Practical Guide to Working with People with Learning Disabilities” edited by Hilary Brown and Sue Benson (London 1992), a great book if you can get your hands on a copy.

3 responses to “Sharing our learning… John O’Briens Five Service Accomplishments

  1. i am doing an assignment on specific needs. i can see that change is happening. i can see people are being treated better by staff and have a voice. it’s just hard to locate a good reference of a personal perspective of a service user who’s experiencing these changes.

  2. Thank you for posting this awesome article.
    I’m a long time reader but I’ve never been compelled to leave a comment.

    I subscribed to your blog and shared this on my Twitter.
    Thanks again for a great article!

  3. Options has been supporting people for nearly 25 years, and some people we have supported for practically that whole time. We have consistently been person-centred in our approach to support throughout this time and feel confident in having been a starting point for this type of change you’re referring to. Many of the people we support experienced different types of support before they were supported by us and they have shared their experiences before they experienced such change with us. If you would like to discuss this more, please get in touch.

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