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Empowering People, Launching lives

The importance of person-centred planning and things to consider

Author: David Anthony, Head of Research and Learning



28th September 2022 | 3 mins read

Every individual deserves to have choice and control over how they live their lives. In order to achieve this, any planning for an individual needs to have their input from the get-go. Person-centred plans (PCPs) are a great tool to ensure that the individual remains at the centre of all planning that affects them. If done successfully, you will create a one-stop-shop for a learners’ likes and dislikes, what’s important to them, how they communicate, and much more. Read on to find out what goes into a perfect PCP and how it can help your learners.

Person-centred planning is not new; it’s been around as early as the 1970’s. However, the concept continues to have a resurgence, and is referenced significantly in the revised SEND Code of Practice back in 2014.

At the heart of person-centred planning is the discovery of how a specific person wants to live their life, and the elements that are required to make this possible (National Disability Authority, 2005)¹. It’s important to note that a PCP is not an assessment or a tool for service planning. These shouldn’t be the motivations for carrying out a PCP, and in the end won’t achieve the outcomes desired for the person at the centre of the plan.

A person-centred plan is a process and an outcome which can be used:

  • to assist with choice making
  • for planning for independence
  • to help with planning for the future
  • to problem solve
  • for managing life changes and transitions
  • when a person is requiring support for the first time
  • when it is unclear what a person values or needs
  • to overcome new challenges
  • to create a proactive approach to support.

All PCPs will look different because everyone is different! A PCP should be fully reflective of an individual’s aspirations and circumstances.

That said, all person-centred plans have some key features that makes them successful

  • Person-focused: an individual at the centre of the plan
  • A plan ‘facilitator’ or coordinator. Someone who organises and pulls together the resources, including people needed to make the plan successful
  • A network of people who are engaged and mobilised to be involved
  • Establishing a way to record the plan
  • What is important to and for a person

The actual PCP ‘meeting’ should be a celebration of the person, and this can take many forms. Often the most successful plans are ones that are presented in an engaging way; this could be a tea party, lunch or themed to the person’s favourite book, film or television programme! However a person decides they want their planning meeting to look, it should include them and the people that matter to them.


The meeting should achieve certain outcomes and answer some of the following questions:

  • What’s important to the person? The things a person values, cares for and loves. The things a person enjoys doing and contributes to them being happy. These might be people, places, things, activities or times of day.
  • What’s important for the person to be able to access their life? The structures required for that person to access the ‘important to’ things. This might include services, expertise (such as physical / mental health professionals), financial or physical items. The ‘important for’ part of the plan matures over the course of the planning time and builds.
  • What does the person like about themselves and what do others admire about them? It’s really important for those being supported to know what makes them truly unique and what their strengths are. Having space and time to focus on the positives will help generate solutions for barriers, as well as focus on confidence building. It also sets the right frame of mind for a growth-mindset.
  • A focus on what they can do creates an attitude towards enabling rather than disabling.
  • What does a good day look like for that person? It might be things such as routine, a good breakfast, seeing or spending time with certain people or pets.
  • Good times of day? When does the person normally present their best self? Are they a morning person, or do they take a bit longer to be ready for their day?
  • How does the person manage transitions and travelling in the community?
  • What is the current network and is there anyone missing? A strong and engaged network is crucial in building the right ‘important for’ support.
  • What resources are already available and what’s missing?


What next?

Once a plan is recorded, either on paper, photographs or on video, think about who needs to see it? Sharing the plan, with permission, is important for everyone to be on the same page when it comes to this specific person, their desires, wants and needs.

Once you have completed a PCP, it’s important to remember to review it when appropriate. If a person has an annual review of their education, health, or care, then that would be the perfect time to revisit the plan. The plan should also be reviewed if any significant life changes occur.

To hear more about person-centred planning take a look at our Lunch and Learn session below. You can also download a planning template to help you and your stakeholders.



  1. Person Centred Planning for People in Ireland who have Disabilities, Plain English Version, 2005

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