Person Centred Planning

Person-centred planning is the foundation upon which all of our services are built.  Rather than starting with pre-defined program models and placements, we start by getting to know each person – their hopes and dreams, their vision of a good life, their unique support needs – and then create personalized support arrangements in partnership with the individual, the family and the support team.

Planning for a good life in community can take many forms. It can be formal or informal. It can involve many people or just a few. It can lead to radical changes and bold new directions in a person’s life, or subtle changes, and incremental steps forward. Whatever form it takes, and whatever the desired outcomes, planning should be driven by the person and those closest to him or her. This is the essence of person-centred planning.

In the old days, planning was done by professionals as an annual event, following a prescribed format. It was a deficits-based approach, where the underlying question was “what’s wrong with this person, and how do we fix it?” Person-centred planning, by contrast, is a strengths-based approach. It asks the question, “what are this person’s strengths and gifts, and how can we build on them?” Person-centred planning doesn’t lend itself to a standardized approach, or even to a single meeting. Discovering one’s strengths and gifts is a process that unfolds over time as people encounter new experiences and take advantage of new opportunities. Planning, then, must be ongoing and fluid. It isn’t something that happens once a year and gets filed away on a form.
The table below shows some of the ways that person-centred planning differs from traditional planning approaches.

Traditional planning Person-centred planning
Planning occurs once a year, as a singular event. Planning is ongoing and fluid.
Planning generally happens in an office around a table, following a prescribed format that is often not comfortable or useful to the person. Planning can happen anywhere – in the person’s home, at a coffee shop – following whatever format is most comfortable and useful to the person.
Decision-making rests with staff and professionals. Decision-making rests with the person and those closest to him or her.
Staff and professionals come up with a plan for the person, which may or may not include the person’s input. Staff and professionals work in partnership with the person, eliciting the person’s input every step of the way.
Planning is deficits-based, meaning it focuses on what’s wrong with the person and what skills the person is lacking. Planning is strengths-based, meaning it focuses on the person’s gifts and abilities and what they have to contribute.
Planning centres on fitting the person into residential and day program “placements.” Planning centres on supporting the person to be fully engaged in community.
Planning results in a standardized written document (ISP, PSP, etc) that is considered fixed for a period of one year. Planning results in action plans that are flexible and individualized. Ongoing revisions are to be expected.
Specialist and disability-related services are the first or only consideration for responding to the person’s needs. Generic supports and services are the first consideration, augmented by specialist or disability-related services only if the person’s needs cannot be met through normative means.


Key elements of person-centred planning

  1. The person is at the centre
    – the person is consulted throughout the planning process
    – the person chooses who to involve in the process
    – the person chooses the setting and timing of meetings
  2. Family members and friends are partners in planning
  3. The plan reflects what is important to the person, their capacities, and what support they require
  4. The plan results in actions that are about life, not just services, and reflect what is possible, not just what is available
  5. The plan results in ongoing listening, learning, and further action

(Sanderson, 2000)

Some approaches to person-centred planning

Personal Futures Planning
Essential Lifestyles Planning

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