Frontline Initiative Person-Centered Practices

What does Person-Centered Planning mean?

Person-Centered Thinking (PCT) and person-centered planning (PCP) seem to be the buzzwords in the disability world, again. We have been talking about these concepts for all of my 30+ years in the field. We all want to believe that we are providing person-centered services, and that we have been doing it all of our careers. However, what we believed was person-centered 20 years ago are now things we cannot believe we did. We scratch our heads and say, “What was I thinking?” Being person-centered means we must continue to think about our work and how what we do leads the people we support to the lives they want.

Person-centered planning is a term for a variety of approaches that help a person identify what is desired and meaningful in their life. Understanding what is important to a person requires planning in a different way. New assessment tools ask different questions. They focus on strengths and desires rather than deficits and vulnerabilities. Planning conversations focus on the future rather than the past. The individuals we support need to be in control of their meetings and outcomes.

The common theme is that the person is the focus. Their hopes, dreams and desires are priority. We are excited to see people having control of their lives. We are excited to identify what will make a difference for them. Person-Centered Planning can impact the positive control people have in their lives. Peoples’ hopes, dreams, and desires typically are about where they live, work, and go, with whom they spend time, and how they have more independence in their lives. The focus is the person, not the disability.

People invite their family and others that care about them to be part of the planning meeting. The team helps share the things that are most important to the person. They develop action steps to move toward the desired future. Planning includes a process facilitator. The process facilitator leads the group through a series of conversations. The facilitator also makes sure that the person-centered planning meeting remains respectful and the person remain the center of all discussion. The planning meeting may also include a graphic recorder. The recorder’s job is to capture the meeting in pictures and words. Graphic recording helps everyone to see the plan in a way that everyone understands. See an example of a graphic recording on the cover.

Person-Centered Thinking and person-centered planning are now required in Minnesota by Rule 245D and the Positive Support Rule. Other states have similar laws. This is exciting for the staff that have worked so long to help people have the lives they want. But this is not just the rule. It is the right thing to do for people.

Everyone has hopes, dreams, and desires. Our job is to learn what they are and help each person move in the direction they choose. We must continue to work at being person-centered. We can do this by continuing to learn from the past and make big changes for the future.

Owakihi is located in West St. Paul, Minnesota. Staff at Owakihi support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental health needs. Owakihi uses person centered methods to support people in making a personalized life plan to empower them to dream of a brighter future and fulfill their hopes while supporting health and safety needs.