The Independent Living paradigm

Independent Living Philosophy

Learning is the thing

Rehabilitation is an educational, not a medical process. The primary "function" of rehabilitation is learning to get back into the swim - not diagnosis and treatment. The New Rehabilitation is based on *DeJong’s independent living (IL) paradigm and requires that health professionals let go and support rather than control. The IL model is consumer controlled, opens up a new range of research opportunities, and the rehab process is driven by high quality information for the recovering person.

The Independent Living paradigm implies that....

  1. It is great to be alive even with profound disability.
  2. Creativity, "use it or lose it", is manifest in good rehabilitation and in independent living.
  3. Compassion creates dependency, but love (sometimes tough) is good for independence.
  4. Needs are best assessed by the person, not the professional.
  5. Rehabilitation is a generic process and is the same in principle for all kinds of impairment.
  6. Needs and reasonable expectations are best evaluated while considering other people’s needs.
  7. Differing health needs are difficult to prioritise and within a health service the squeaky wheel gets the oil and the loudest squeakers are not rehabilitation services.
  8. Cognitive impairment requires that families assume the role of major stakeholder in outcome. The roles of professionals and providers as "watch-dogs" are enhanced.
  9. Recovery is demanding and learning to "take charge" again places extra strains and stresses on family, friends, caregivers and professionals. When successfully back in the swim and happy and financially secure, the person has more time to think of others and can be a delight to be with. Unsuccessful rehabilitation tends to produce dependent, demanding and angry people, who become pains in the butt of everybody who has the misfortune to run into them.

Strategic Statements


BAIL generates, transfers and applies knowledge to enable people with significant residual impairment following injury or illness to live as independently as they choose.


BAIL will be recognised nationally and internationally by health professionals, researchers and consumers as a leading centre of knowledge on the theory and practice of Independent Living for people with significant residual impairment following injury or illness.

Key Goals

  • To establish New Zealand's leading independent research and learning facility and faculty devoted to independent living and the new rehabilitation.
  • To create a dynamic framework in which consumers and health professionals, tertiary education institutes and industry leaders link in order to pose questions, challenge conventions and apply innovative thinking, teaching and learning to the science and practice of rehabilitation and independent living.
  • To build a top class, high profile research and learning facility on the Burwood Hospital Campus.
  • To develop an academic family of work that leads to the establishment of a Chair of Independent Living.