Why Person-Centered Planning Matters
When we as a society decided people with disabilities needed supports, we developed systems of support. 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 was 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 supports 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 supports are 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 s/he 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, in ways that work best for them and empower them to have positive control in their lives, to help them select staff and team members who are likely to be a good fit and support them well and to discover the system and community supports 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 “once and done.” Person Centered Descriptions are not “about the paper,” rather they are about using the information on the paper to help people have better lives. Because people change and life circumstances change, Person Centered Descriptions also change with the needs of the person.
To learn more about Person Centered Planning, contact Lori Hauge.