What is Person-Centered Planning? How it Helps Those with Disabilities

Far too often, individuals with disabilities are excluded from making decisions that shape their lives. This lack of independence can feel dehumanizing, and it can also take away opportunities to learn and ensure we all reach our fullest potential. 

Person-centered planning (PCP) is an approach designed to allow people to access support tailored to their needs. When used as a tool for building confidence and personal autonomy, it can have life-altering effects.


What is Person-Centered Planning?

Person-centered planning is used in various fields, particularly healthcare and social work, and focuses on giving agency to people with disabilities. By focusing on an individual’s goals, not those of others, PCP helps empower people to find ways to make their ideal lifestyle a reality.

Rather than relying on a system or specific way of caring for people, PCP centers on each individual’s plans for their future. One of the main characteristics of person-centered planning is that it regards an individual as the expert. PCP prioritizes their perspective while formulating support plans.

For people with disabilities, person-centered planning can be useful in areas like:

  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Employment
  • Housing
  • Relationship and skill building

PCP understands there is no one approach to living a happy, healthy lifestyle. A plan for one person will involve different goals and actionable steps than others. And, while person-centered planning may involve collaborating with loved ones and caregivers, it doesn’t necessarily have to.

What matters most is that the individual is heard; their desires and goals take precedence. With a person-centered plan developed, individuals with disabilities can gain access to resources, services, and connections that help them thrive.

The Four Principles of Person-Centered Planning

The framework of person-centered planning can be summarized into the following four principles

Offering Personalized Care

Individualized support involves tailoring support plans to each person's unique needs and goals. At NeuroNav, we work with clients using person-centered planning established through California’s Self-Determination Program, which makes accessing personalized support easier. 

Treating People with Compassion

Person-centered planning requires that people with disabilities be treated with respect and empathy. Ensuring that each person’s wishes, values, opinions and beliefs are considered is key.

Providing Coordinated Support

It’s important to have consistency in the services and support offered to people with disabilities. Creating a formal plan makes it possible to access the same quality of care regardless of the circumstances, which can especially benefit people who move between schools, careers, etc. 

The person’s records and support plan should be shared with their caregivers and service providers as needed to make collaboration possible.

Enabling People to Recognize Their Abilities

The principle of enabling is all about helping people with disabilities stay as independent as possible. Person-centered planning helps recipients recognize their capabilities by placing power in their hands. Active engagement in life decisions can boost confidence, satisfaction, and personal skills.

How Does Person-Centered Planning Apply to California’s Self-Determination Program (SDP)?

The Self-Determination Program is an initiative by the State of California that aims to foster independence by allowing participants more agency over the support they get for their disability. In this context, person-centered planning puts individuals at the heart of decision-making.

With person-centered planning, participants can work with their support team to create an Individualized Service Plan (ISP) that reflects their individual goals and preferences. By emphasizing collaboration, respect, and empowerment, person-centered planning ensures each person is involved in identifying how they’ll benefit from the SDP.

Steps for Creating a Person-Centered Plan

A person-centered plan requires thought, time, and effort; the individual it’s designed for must be represented in its content. Below are some general steps used when creating a person-centered plan:

  1. Gather relevant information about the individual, including their strengths, goals, challenges, etc. This process can involve their friends, family members and caregivers.
  2. Choose a facilitator. The facilitator should be someone you trust who has received training on person-centered planning.
  3. Plan and hold a meeting on an agreed date and time to discuss preliminary details.
  4. Share gathered information with the facilitator and other team members. 
  5. Develop a written plan. The plan should include specifics regarding the individual's choices on things like healthcare decisions, where they’ll live, retirement plans, etc.
  6. Follow up with the plan regularly once it’s been developed. Your facilitator should pay attention at each meeting to ensure progress is made.

To connect with independent facilitators who deeply understand person-centered planning, contact us at NeuroNav today. Our team can help you navigate this process, the SDP, and more.

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