HCBS Training

Person-Centered Practices as a Process

Person-centered strategies help providers to learn more about what is important to a person who is receiving services. Balancing what is important To a person’s life while still making sure that planning processes also address what is important For the health and safety of both the person and others is an important part of providing effective supports.

It is important for all people to feel that they are valued members of their community. Feeling a sense of purpose and meaning in life can greatly improve a person's physical and emotional health. These feelings and beliefs are just as important for a person as any health and safety concerns that arise. Everyone experiences challenges that can impact health and wellbeing. How we support people through these challenges helps people to live their best life.

Think about what you would consider important for your quality-of-life. People often seek personal and/or spiritual growth, the best possible level of health and wellbeing, and a sense of purpose and meaning in life. These elements make up each person's quality of life. In the past, service systems have mainly addressed health and safety (important for) concerns rather than focus on the desires, hopes, and dreams of people (important to) receiving services.

Supporting people to realize their best life can result in feelings of conflict and stress. This occurs when we believe that supporting a person’s desires may threaten health or safety for that person or for someone else. At times, the decisions that are made to encourage people to seek out what is important to them can result in challenges that lead to a provider being punished if something goes wrong.

This is one of the major tensions that many providers encounter because of the responsibility they have to provide effective services. The role of each service provider is to navigate this tension and ensure that a person's health and safety needs does not undermine what a person wants in life. One way to address this natural tension is to consider the balance of what is important to and for a person.

Please Note: The information about what is important to and for people comes from The Learning Community for Person-Centered Practices. You can learn more about The Learning Community by visiting the Module 1 Resource page .

Examples of situations where we are able to balance what is important to and for people:

  • Akemi wants to go to the local coffee shop on her own but her mother is worried that someone will take advantage of her kindness when she is alone. Akemi, her mother, and her provider create a plan to invite a family friend to meet Akemi at the local coffee shop.
  • Lamont successfully follows a weight loss plan because his ten-year reunion will occur in the next year and he wants to make a positive impression.

Additional examples:

John is currently a junior in high school. He is really interested in cars and working on car engines. John loves to talk about cars and small engines with other people. He has a history of skipping classes at school because he says his classes are all boring. John learned from his counselor that he will need to graduate from high school in order to attend an auto mechanic program in his town and enroll as an intern. John decided to attend all his classes from now on so that he can finish high school and then study auto collision repair as soon as possible.

teacher with student in library

Eddie really wants to attend camp this summer with his friend Andre. He knows sometimes people have a hard time understanding him when he uses his voice. Eddie does not like to practice his American Sign Language (ASL) but decides that it will be helpful when he attends summer camp so that he can talk to Andre and make new friends. Eddie and Andre start practicing sign language together to prepare for camp this summer. They record their sign language sessions and send a number of short videos to friends who will also be attending summer camp. These short videos include common words and phrases that can be used in conversation this summer.

two boys playing and using sign language

Tae-Ho wants to adopt a dog but their parents worry that they might not understand how much work is involved in pet care. Tae-Ho tends to forget to finish chores at home and a dog would add to their chores. Tae-Ho and their parents created a plan to keep track of Tae-Ho’s home chores. While spending weekends at their grandparents' house they are tasked with taking care of the dog. Tae-Ho’s new chores included: feeding the dog, putting fresh water in his bowl, and walking the dog on weekends. Tae-Ho enjoyed these chores and learned a lot about being a pet owner. Tae-Ho and their parents reviewed how well Tae-Ho was doing with the chores that were added over the past six months. Last weekend Tae-Ho adopted a puppy from the local animal shelter.

boy running with dog

Donita is a thirty-year old woman who is friendly and outgoing but also enjoys a quiet home life. Donita currently lives in a group home with three other people. She did not choose her housemates or where she lives. She does not have anything in common with her housemates and has told her family that her home is often too noisy. Donita is working with her family and social worker to find a solution that will work better for Donita. One idea is to invite Donita’s cousin LaRonda to be a roommate. LaRonda has just moved from another state and has had trouble finding affordable apartments to rent. By moving in with Donita, LaRonda will be able to make monthly rent payments for an apartment. Donita is excited for a new chapter and her family and social worker are supporting her to live her best life.

two women in the kitchen baking

Photo credit: Disabled and Here

JJ is a young man who loves new clothes that are in fashion among people his age. JJ has been struggling with depression and recently lost his job because he was late getting to work. JJ was late because he wasn't waking up when his alarm clock rang in the morning. JJ, his foster mother, his case manager, a close friend, and his therapist brainstormed ideas that would help JJ make positive changes in his life. One idea was for JJ to apply for work in a clothing store. By working at a retail store, JJ is able to buy clothes that are in fashion at a discounted cost.  He enjoys working with people who are also interested in new clothing styles. JJ is always on time to his job now because he looks forward working every day and this makes it easier to wake up in the morning.

young male shopping for clothes

Dolores is an older adult who wants to continue to live in her own home. The house that Dolores lives in is in a rural community that she and her husband moved to when they retired. Her husband passed away a couple years ago and as Dolores gets older it is becoming  harder for her to take care of the house, go grocery shopping, cook her own meals, and keep her house clean. She has always been a private person and prides herself on taking care of her own needs. Dolores and her family talked about different ways to help her maintain independence while receiving more support for everyday tasks. Dolores decided that the best option for her was to move to a smaller assisted living apartment. The type of living arrangment provides Dolores the opportunity to maintain a smaller household and retain her privacy while receiving the support she wants.

Elderly woman sitting and holding flowers