John O’Brien and Herb Lovett refer to Person Centred Planning as “a family of approaches to organising and guiding community change in alliance with people with disabilities and their families and friends.”
Influential people who have been passionate in their efforts around person-centred planning and who have provided necessary leadership over many years, include John O’Brien, Connie Lyle O’Brien, Marsha Forest, Susan Burke Harrison, Herb Lovett, Beth Mount, Jack Pearpoint, Michael Smull, Judith Snow, Helen Sanderson, Pete Ritchie, and Jack Yates to name a few.
The history of Person Centred Planning is not often known or understood. Person Centered Planning has been seen as a fairly ‘new’ way of thinking and planning with people however, its beginnings started in the 1970’s across Canada and the US. A few people had started some specific planning approaches, which led to increased interest and workshops being designed to teach others. In the 1980’s Governments were starting to become interested and asking how it can be made more widely available.
The term ‘person centred planning’ became common by 1985 and by then there were a number of planning approaches which included Personal Futures Planning, 24 hour planning, Individual Service Design, and Getting to know you. By 1992, the number of planning approaches had increased and now included MAPS, Group Action Planning, Families first planning, New Hats, Essential Lifestyle Planning, PATH, Whole life Planning, Personal Histories to name a few.
Interest in Person Centred Planning has significantly increased in recent years, to where it has shaped policy and practice within Government and Service Organisations. Person-centred planning is at risk of being adopted as a tool using the words and the jargon, yet compromising on the values, qualities, and components of person-centred approaches. This leads to a reinvention of just another planning approach which makes little change to the life of the person. It can become a system-based ‘document’ which serves the agency and not the person.
Person-centered planning does not ignore disability; it simply shifts the emphasis to a search for capacity in the person, among the person’s friends and family, in the community, and among service workers. A person’s difficulties are not relevant to the process until how the person wants to live was clear. Then it is necessary to imagine, and take steps to implement, creative answers to this key question, ‘What particular assistance do you need in order to pursue the life that we have envisioned together”John O’Brien, Connie Lyle O’Brien & Beth Mount, 1997.