ChildPerson Centred Planning was first developed in the 1980’s by a small number of people including John O’Brien, Connie Lyle O’Brien, Beth Mount, Jack Pearpoint, Marsha Forest and Michael Smull, it was developed as a way of enabling people, children and adults, to move out of segregated places such as special schools, hospitals and institutions and into mainstream life, schools and communities.

Person Centred Planning is built on the values of inclusion and looks at the support a person needs to be included and involved in their community. Person centred approaches offer an alternative to traditional types of planning which are based upon the medical model of disability and which are set up to assess need, allocate services and make decisions for people. Person centred planning is rooted in the social model and aims to empower people who have traditionally been disempowered by ‘specialist’ or segregated services by handing power and control back to them.

“Person centred planning is a way of organising around one person to define and create a better future” (Pete Richie, 2002)

Person Centred Planning is not one defined process but a range of processes all sharing the same underpinning values base and goal – to help a person who has been disempowered -for what ever reason -to move toward the life that they want and to get the right support in doing this. Although person centred planning was developed for disabled people it is a tool for everyone.

Essential Lifestyle Planning

Helps to work out what is essential, important and desirable in a person’s life on a day to day basis.


Uses a technique of visual graphics in focussing on the ‘dream’ of a person and works backwards from this positive future to seek out the actions required along the way to achieve it.


Includes topics and information that represent a person’s life so far, who the person is, their dream for the future, what the person needs now and a plan for action.

‘All about me’

Uses Essential Lifestyle Planning to inform many of the questions we use to try to get to know a person, their likes, dislikes, their ways of communicating, do’s and don’ts.


Francis, his family and friends created an ‘All about me’ book and it has proved invaluable.

With the help of his close family ‘All about Francis’ tells the reader things about Francis’ life, all of the things Francis likes and the positive ways people see him (…sociable, great fun, mischievous, assertive, popular, an exhibitionist!…) It shows how to look at things from his point of view, for example:

I love to be with people and make them laugh. I make noises if I’m feeling extremely happy, I will raise my arms and yours as if celebrating!  I sometimes make sounds without words but you can tell by my frown that I’m not happy about something. I sometimes make a gesture with the back of my hand aginst my chin,  this means ‘I don’t like what you’re saying to me’.

If I’m really cross you may find some of your possessions in the bin!

I like people to respond to me, talk, laugh and play my games.  But you’ll know if I need to be alone.  I’ll go to my room and close the door.

I will take things literally. If you say, ‘Write your name’,  I will write ‘Your name’, ‘In a minute’, means exactly that, and I’ll be checking the clock.

Tell me one thing at a time.  If you give me two instructions at once, I’ll be confused and not manage either thing.

If I take your hand and lead you to the classroom door, I may be finding things too overwhelming.  I’m asking to go to a quiet, place to wind down. At home I like to be left alone in my bedroom with no music or TV or I may choose a bath. At school, I go to the playground (if it’s empty and if the weather is dry) and sit on the swing.  If not then I can go to the quiet room as long as you tell me why I can’t be in the playground.  Give me a pencil and paper and I’ll begin to relax as I draw.

We get to know what Francis likes to do and what he is good at, as well as things he needs people with him to do and what will help if he becomes distressed.

Compiling an ‘All about me’ profile
Sharon Scoffings

Significant ‘S’ words to remember:

Scribe: That is your main role in compiling this profile.

This MUST be done as if you are your young persons interpreter, (e.g. as if they have dictated it then you write it from THEIR experiences or perspective).  If they are ‘pre-verbal’, remember that you know your young person better than anyone else. (Be confident!!!) Get others who know your young person really well to help you!!  If they can describe their own experiences, use those words. Include them, even if they feel awkward, or are grammatically incorrect, etc.

Symbols: If your young person uses symbols/imagery in their communication, include them too. Photographs are a fantastic way of illustrating points as well.

Signposts/signals: List things such as quirky behaviours, known triggers for ‘unwelcome’ behaviours, the name of the impairment, medical conditions/treatments if appropriate. State the implications for your young person. E.g. ‘I may feel tired’, or ‘ I will climb the walls if I drink Ribena’, etc.

Scenario or story: A great way of getting a point across, or describing something of importance to our young people. E.g. how our young person may react under pressure or extremely happy etc.

Sandwiches: Always start and end a section with a positive point especially if it feels that you need to say more negative points & explanations in order to help your young person to be understood. If you can write it were you are ‘sandwiching’ every point, that’s even better!!!

Strengths: Talk about these as much as you can, breaking them down into tiny stages to emphasis these strengths. Describe successes!!!

Support: Describe the ways in which your young person can be helped, however insignificant they may seem. (These may be actions that you do without even thinking about it… so carry a note book around for a whole 7 days, noting how you handle situations, reinforce & reward times when your young person really pleases you, etc)

Sensory sensitivities: If your young person has any issues regarding sensory sensitivities, include them. Describe your young persons reactions and how to resolve/remove them. (E.g. Bright sunlight & wearing a cap).

Sympathy: Don’t even go there!!! Be positive with all that you can. Be factual with the rest. (E.g. showing that you are aware of these issues, but can develop ways of supporting your young person, etc)

Set a deadline: Don’t dwell on it forever; set a realistic deadline for completion. Get it done. (You can and will probably need to rewrite it at some stage anyway, so don’t worry about forgetting something).

Send it out as far as you can! Share it and show to all that come into contact with your young person. Don’t forget to distribute it to your family, school staff, social services, e.g. link workers/befrienders/respite carers etc, health care professionals, G.P’s, other students, school taxi/transport, out of school/leisure activities, neighbours, all places/people that you visit regularly, (or visit you!!!) This is a useful tool for when your child is in a ‘stage of transition’, e.g. nursery to primary school/ primary to secondary…and beyond, etc.


More informationMore information

For more information on Person Centred Planning and organisational change: “Person Centred Planning – Research, Practice and Future Directions (2002) by Steve Holburn and Peter Vietze

Research into person centred planning: vol. 27 number 4 of the TASH journal (2002) partly devoted to the theme of evaluating Person Centred Planning.