A Person Centered Planning Research Overview

by National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness on Mar 1, 2006
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Compiled by DB-LINK Staff

National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness

November, 2006

Person Centered Planning (PCP) is an approach to designing support that is guided by the individual with disabilities, builds from personal strengths and vision, and results in practical action plans. While PCP procedures have been advocated strongly and adopted widely, there is little empirical documentation of the impact of the approach on the quality of resulting plans or the perceived impact on the lives of people with disabilities (Flannery et. al, 2000). What follows is a brief overview of the annotated bibliography concerning PCP research.

Articles by O’Brien and O’Brien (1999) examine the foundation and history of the development of PCP while Rasheed, Fore & Miller (2006) synthesize current information about PCP, including the similarities and differences of approaches, the implementation of processes, and the advantages and limitations of PCP. Several studies attempt to identify the critical components of PCP, (Hagner, Helm & Butterworth, 1996; Holburn, et al., 2000). Shwartz, Jacobson & Holburn, (2000) report that an expert panel and consensus workshops identified eight general hallmarks and twenty-three related indicators of person-centered approaches in planning and providing services and supports to individuals with mental retardation.

Several authors (Holburn, 2002; Reid & Green, 2002; O’Brien, 2002) have examined the problems in conducting an empirical analysis of PCP due to the difficulty of achieving reliable implementation of such a complex process. Others (Evans, 2002; O’Brien, 2002) contend that there is no need to prove the benefits of having planning be person-centered, because PCP is values-based and there is no logical alternative.

Several authors examine the barriers to PCP that exist within traditional service models. Margita-McLaughlin, et. al. (2002) conducted a quasi-experimental study that identified ways of evaluating and improving service delivery models to further enhance the attainment of valued outcomes. Malette (2002) conducted a qualitative study that suggested restructuring disability supports on person-centered rather than system centered principles. Holburn, et. al, (2000) developed instruments to assess aspects of PCP and used a combined rational-empirical method to examine intervention integrity, program evaluation and organizational performance. Robert, Becker & Seavy (1997) explored ways to monitor the adoption and implementation of PCP and identified variables that related to successful adoption.

Rasheed, Fore & Miller (2006) found that implementation of person centered plans require all participants to be flexible and willing to change. Sanderson (2002) conducted action research that found that the PCP process is dynamic and requires a commitment from teams to continue to learn and change.

Several authors cited the problems in making the PCP process accessible and effective for focus persons who cannot speak for themselves. Problems in accurately identifying the preferences of focus persons who are non-verbal were identified by Reid, Everson & Green (1999) and Reid & Green (2002). Canaby (1997) found that focus persons unable to speak for themselves were often excluded from the PCP process. Whitney-Thomas & Timmons (1998) identified ways to support the participation of the focus person in the planning process.

Flannery et. al (2000), in a pilot study using a pre-experimental design, found that data support an association between PCP training and increased use of PCP procedures, a widening of the times when support was planned, expansion of the number of people proposed to provide support and increased satisfaction with the planning process. Holburn et. al. (2004), in the Willowbrook study, reported improved outcomes for persons involved in PCP as compared to a control group.  

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