Why Person-Centered Planning Matters
When we as a society decide people with disabilities needed support, we develop systems to help. There is nothing inherently wrong with systems. Prior to having systems to support people, our approach was to ignore people disabilities, pretend they didn’t exist most of the time and shame them and their families for their existence the rest of the time. So, having a system of support is an improvement.
Unfortunately, public systems, especially ones that involve public funding, tend to be designed and run for the benefit of the system, focused on efficiency, convenience and consolidation. In systems, individual people tend to get lost.
After decades of supporting people with system-centered care, thought leaders like Michael Smull with the Learning Community for Person Centered Practices, Beth Mount and John O’Brien, authors of “Pathfinders: People with Developmental Disabilities & Their Allies Building Communities that Work Better for Everybody,” Helen Sanderson of Helen Sanderson and Associates, Sheli Reynolds of UMKC and many other leaders started developing strategies, skills and tools to help us understand who people are and what they want from life. These leaders began pushing our systems to think differently.
The shared goal of all person-centered planning (PCT, Path, Picture of a Life, LifeCourse, etc.) is to work with the person to discover what a good life looks like to them, to understand what support they need to get that good life and be connected in meaningful ways with other people and their communities, while staying healthy and safe and to design individualized, balanced supports to help them get lives they love surrounded by people who love and value them and who they love and value.
How Person-Centered Planning Works at Bios
Bios employees who facilitate planning, such as area directors, lead program managers or program managers, use Person-Centered Thinking skills to discover:
- What is important TO the person in relation to the purpose of his or her plan. Things that are important TO the person are the things that make him/her happy, comforted, content, satisfied and fulfilled. They are the things that make the person a unique human being. Important TOs are related to people and relationships, things to do and places to go, rituals and routines, rhythm or pace of life, how resources are utilized.
- What is important FOR the person in relation to the purpose of the plan. This includes what is required for him/her to be healthy, safe and valued by others? What is the relationship between the important TOs and important FORs.
- What support is needed for the person to have a good balance between important TOs and FORs?
- What do others need to know about supporting the person best?
- What do supporters need to know or learn?
- What are the person’s goals or outcomes related to the purpose of the plan? How will he/she know when they’ve accomplished them or need to tweak them?
Once the initial discovery is complete, the facilitator may assist in gathering additional information from people who could not attend but whose opinions and support the person values. When all information is gathered, the facilitator will assemble the information into a Person-Centered Description or a One-Page Description.
The Person-Centered Description is used by Bios employees to support the person to accomplish a life they value. The life is geared towards what works best for them and empowers them to have positive control in their lives. It also helps them select staff and team members who are likely towards being a good fit and supporting them well. It discovers the system and community support and resources needed to help the person contribute to their home, family and community in ways that matter to them.
Importantly, a Person-Centered Description is not “one and done.” Person-Centered Descriptions are not “about the paper,” rather they are about using the information on paper to help people have better lives. As people change and life circumstances change, Person-Centered Descriptions also change with the needs of the person.
Lori Hauge is the chief culture office for Bios and a certified mentor trainer with the Learning Community for Person Centered Practice. To learn more about person-centered planning with Bios, email firstname.lastname@example.org.