Person Centered Planning and Support

Person-Centered Planning

An ongoing problem-solving process used to help people plan for their future. In person-centered planning, groups of people focus on an individual and the person’s vision of what they would like to do in the future. This generally includes assessment and planning tools that are focused on the participant’s strengths, choice, and self-direction in an effort to understand what is important to and for the participant.

Person Centered Planning Video


Keys to Success in Person Centered Planning (PCP) and Support

PCP practices re-balance the power dynamics between the person and the established support systems.  When we support the person first, we begin to re-think our preconceived assumptions that are inherent to our support systems. Adopting these practices enable us to maximize outcomes and facilitate a partnership that ensures the person and family have a voice in the care received and the outcomes achieved. The process begins by listening carefully to the person and their family.

Nothing undermines listening more than thinking we already know the answer (e.g., “I already know what you need because I know what I would want”).

Important To / Important For with Michael Smull 


Fundamental Components of PCP:

  • Value the whole person
  • Engaging people through power with, rather than power over
  • Learning about what’s important to each person
  • Engagement to discover what the person cares about and finds motivating
  • Supporting the person based on what you’ve learned.
  • Action on providing support on issues that surface through listening and learning
  • Creating a One-Page Profile (OPP) that helps others know how to support


7 Key Questions for Understanding Supportive Needs

What is important TO the person? (Motivation, Values, Interests, Comforts, Routines)

What is important FOR the person? (Health, Safety, Build Skills, Behaviors to Change)

Is the connection between important TO and FOR addressed?

Note: No one does anything that is Important FOR them unless there is at least a part of it that is Important TO them.

Is there a good balance between important TO and important FOR?

What does the person want to learn?  What do we need to learn?

What needs to stay the same (be maintained or enhanced)?

What needs to change?


Keys to Success

Work with people in a way that promotes choice, direction, and control for each person

Discover what is important, what is important for them, the balance between the two

Communicate with people in a way that supports partnership and collaboration

Partner with others to create innovative and sustainable solutions to support


Person at the Center

Value the person enough to hold them at the center of the conversation and think what else would need to change for them to maintain choice, direction, and control.

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Learning about people

It turns out that it’s a lot easier to learn about what’s Important For someone, than it is to learn about what’s Important To them. This is partly because we are always being told what we ought to be doing around health and safety (“wear your helmet,” “eat right,” “get lots of exercise,” etc.).

On the other side, when it comes to what is Important To a person, it usually takes some careful digging and a little bit of thinking in order to uncover useful information.

The Importance of Routines - Michael Smull


Routines, Good Days, Bad Days Information Building

Discuss everyday activities and task(s):

The things that provide consistency, comfort, and control.

Examine the organization of the day, such as, routines (morning and night).

Look for obstacles that interfere with daily routines.

Consider the environmental and personal factors that contribute to good vs. bad days.


Good Days - Questions that might help:

  • What happened that contributed to your good day?
  • What do you look forward to doing?
  • Who do you look forward to seeing?
  • What happens that gives you energy to deal with difficult situations?
  • What motivates and interests you at home OR on a school day?

Bad Days - Questions that might help:

  • What threw your day off?
  • What made the day bad for you?
  • What made you frustrated?  Bored?
  • What took the fun out of it?
  • Be sure to include those daily frustrations.


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Working through Negative Thoughts

Communicating with someone who is expressing a negative thought or talking about a challenging situation, you want to remain as neutral as possible about what might be the best way to fix the situation.

Many of the issues that people experience don’t have simple solutions.  A big part of the work is helping them manage their feelings and discovering solutions that works best for them.

Another good reason to remain uncommitted about an issue is that part of human nature is to push back when they encounter someone advocating a particular position.

Instead of offering a suggestion, empathize with the person by saying, “That sounds like a frustrating position to be in. It must make it hard to feel in control of your own life.”

By recognizing the feeling (how I would feel if I couldn’t set my own schedule), and letting you know by naming the feeling (frustration) without offering solutions, you have created a bond.  That will possibly open up a lot more conversation (and maybe even some ideas about solutions).


PCP One-Page Profiles (OPP)

Building a profile provides the person the ability to share their story, personal qualities, and areas of importance and supportive needs.  Profile sheets are not complicated or need to be fancy.  They should be functional and ready to use by everyone helping.

Build the profile together, re-evaluate the profile on a constant basis as life changes, bring awareness to others about the profile and the impact that it can serve.


OPP can include

  • Name / Age / Occupation
  • What people appreciate about the person
  • What is important to the person
  • How to support the person
  • Communication style and preferences, Best modes for communication
  • Expertise and special knowledge that the person can contribute
  • Special needs or accommodations


More than a Better Plan, but a Better Life

What does it mean to have a better life? Being connected into a community is a really good measure of how someone is doing in leading a good life.



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Additional Information and Resources

DSHS – Person Centered Perspective

Minnesota Person Centered Practices