What exactly is the person-centered planning?

There are many different styles to Person-Centered Planning (PCP), but there are some things that they generally have in common. Trained and experienced facilitators using one of the nationally recognized person-centered planning approaches, engage the person, their family/guardian and SODC staff, to design the appropriate supports they will need to be successful and have a fulfilling life in the community.

Person-Centered Planning meetings focus on the positive aspects of a person's life - and what CAN be - rather than just a discussion of the historic problems or failures. They tend to be more conversational and less about the professionals talking about all the things the person can't do. Almost all Person-Centered Plans involve creation of a drawing that is intended to involve the person and others in the process and depict important aspects of that individual's life.

It is a meeting of people that care about the person. The person for whom the meeting is being held should be there unless there is a very good reason for them to not be (for example if they would be upset). This usually means that the meeting is attended by family members and/or the guardian (preferably in person, or if necessary by phone) and usually some staff from their current residence.

During the meeting, the facilitators try to get the individual to tell us, or help us to know what he/she likes and wants for his/her life - and often what they don't like and don't want. The other participants in the meeting contribute what they know about the person's gifts, strengths, needs, interests, and dreams. These meetings work best when everyone contributes what they know about the individual so that the person's life in the community meets their needs and desires. 

Person-Centered Planning encourages everyone to dig deep and contribute anything that the participants can think of that will help us assist the individual to find the right kind of place to live, build new relationships and continue those that he/she has, receive the kinds of supports he/she needs, find work or other meaningful activities to do during the day…. in short - have a life that's just right for him/her.

Sometimes the things that make a difference between a life that's just right and one that isn't right for a person may seem very minor - but sometimes those very small bits of insight into a person turn out to be very important, so we encourage everyone to think hard about big and small things that the participants know about the person and to contribute those to this meeting. The more that is contributed the better everyone gets to know the person and understand what we can do to help them be successful in the transition.

At the end of a good Person-Centered Planning meeting everyone who participated should know quite a bit more about the person and have a much better idea about what a good life in the community may look like for him/her.

In a nutshell, Person-Centered Planning assists in identifying what is important to the individual whereas assessments identify what is important for the individual. For example, having a pet or a yard to enjoy may be important to the individual, whereas taking a needed medication is important for the individual. Support plans that include what is important to the individual have a far better chance of success than supports plans that just include what is important for the individual.

Sample Person-Centered Plans