Person Centered Planning
Person centered planning refers to a process in which a team of people gather and create a plan for a person with a disability. The process and resulting plan should be based on the person’s interests, ambitions, strengths and desires. It is meant to resist system-driven plans, those that focus on diagnoses, standards and limitations rather than who the person is and what they want from life. Lots of plans include goals about improving personal hygiene skills. Fewer plans include goals about growing a garden.
The idea of a plan is important here. Everyone receiving supports and services paid for by governmental moneys is required to have an annual contract that details the services provided and the expected outcomes. This is generally referred to as an Individual Support Plan or ISP.
The illustration above shows a simplified process teams use to create a person centered plan. This process follows the Beautiful Loop model of Ask-Analyze-Act.
THE TEAM: Who are we?
The first part of the process is to organize the team. The person whose plan this is is at the center and should take part in the whole process to their level of comfort and full ability. Gather around them a group of caring and knowledgeable people. Family and friends as well as caregivers and program staff. Professional supports such as nurses, speech therapists and psychiatrists are often involved as well. It is important to remember through all of this though, the plan belongs to the person, not to the professionals.
ASK: Gathering person centered information
The key to a person centered planning process is the questions we ask. Who do you like to hang out with? What’s your favorite thing to do? What kind of job do you want? Where do you like to sit in church? The list of questions we can ask is endless. We also must ask questions about how to keep the person healthy and safe.
ANALYZE: Figuring out planning priorities
My favorite method of creating an agenda is to have the whole team look over the gathered info and circle the important stuff with color coded markers.
THE MEETING: Let’s have a party
I am a strong advocate of celebrating the person’s life and accomplishments and making the annual plan a party. I’ve attended too many meetings in which the focus is deficits, diagnoses and inappropriate behavior. Planning for the future should be exciting and full of life.