Being A Core Member

What Makes L’Arche Unique?

Unlike many agencies, which operate according to certain medical or social service models of care for persons with disabilities, L’Arche has pioneered a “community model” based on the belief that human beings develop their abilities and talents most fully when given the opportunity to form mutual relationships of friendship with others.

Within this community model:

  • persons with disabilities are called “core members”, rather than “clients”, "patients", or “consumers”
  • those who assist them are called “assistants”, rather than “staff” or "counsellors"
  • relationships based on friendship are considered to be as important as professional relationships in promoting the personal growth of persons with disabilities
  • assistants generally live in the homes with core members just as they would live with any family
  • everyone in the home—core members and assistants alike—is considered to be equally responsible for the life of the community
  • Because of this unique structure, staffing ratios at L’Arche tend to be lower than at other agencies, and the ratio of persons with disabilities to those who assist them is also relatively low (between 1:1 and 2:1, core members to assistants).