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Person Centred Planning

What is it?   Types of Planning   Our Work   Examples   Other Approaches   Training   Books   Links  

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Please make a voluntary donation to support Inclusive Solutions in our Person Centred Development Work and as part of our 'thankyou' we will send you a

Handout on Person Centred Planning

5 page document succinctly outlining approaches to Person Centred Planning

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Person Centred Planning really works

Sharon Gray - Netherfield Primary an OFSTED rated 'Outstanding School'

"We dare to dream..."

Three years of Inclusive Solutions facilitating the PATH process with this really inclusive school has contributed to the school's developmentwhich was endorsed by OFSTED as outstanding in July 2013.

'It is crucial when developing the Netherfield vision that all stakeholders are authentically involved - that is children, families, staff, Governors, partners who support the school and all staff.

The PATH - Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope -
is a creative way of enabling all voices to be heard, recorded, ideas shared, dreams developed and then identifying positive and possible priorities.

Together the entire group start to plan out the small steps to ensure our 5 key priorities will be achieved. Throughout this process it is clear that everyone develops ownership of the vision, is aware of their responsibility and indeed accountability.

The vision is then displayed in a prominent place enabling everyone to physically and metaphorically touch the vision on a daily basis.

Each year we share previous PATHs, allowing all stakeholders to walk the PATH of school improvement since September 2009. We find this a powerful way of planning and ensuring we achieve.'




Listen to participants giving feedback on this course

Person centred planning is a way of expressing a set of inclusive values through a unique range of tools and techniques. The most commonly used person centred tools - MAPS and PATH - create a hands-on demonstration of these values in action. All person centred planning tools and processes are driven by a commitment to achieve inclusive outcomes for the person whose plan it is, and the young people involved are always present throughout their Planning session. The focus of all person centred approaches is the whole person – irrespective of the label they carry. Two people – a process facilitator and a graphic facilitator, typically facilitate plans. The role of the support service staff in this work is as a facilitator – not as an expert participant, problem solver, assessor or provider of consultation. MAPS and PATH are especially effective tools in planning transitions and annual review processes for young people with additional support needs and for through-care planning for young people who are looked after or accommodated.

'Visual and auditory aids were particularly interesting'

'Being able to share views and opinions on what it means to run an inclusive provision/setting'

'Reflecting on the meaning of inclusion, I was able to visualize the past and the focus of future work'

'I have learnt a lot about people, team work, friendship, and kindness and strength together'

Thanks again!! 'Extremely inspiring'!

School PATHs

A very experienced Academy School Governor says it all....


We do lots of School Improvement planning and team building using person centred processes. We often use PATH. Listen to the feedback from staff at Lound Infant and Junior school, Sheffield in a Federation reflecting on their time together with Inclusive Solutions.


Change of TAC - PATH Pilot Suffolk Inclusive Services

Team around the Child processes have been with us in the UK for some time now. Breathe some new life into these processes by using PATH and MAPs. This is waht we are piloting in Suffolk and guess what? It is going down really well!

The young person can be involved meanibgfully and the parent can feel much more supported and less judged.

Contact Suffolk Inclusive Services for more information

Painting Portraits - Person Centred Assessment

We are working hard to devise alternative ways of creating pictures of children and young people that are more respectful and person centred but still do what is expected of an 'assessment'. Let us know if you want to see some of the emerging proccesses and materials or have ideas that feeed this thinking.

beauty and beast

Human Thinking Together

The Pictures We Paint

Max Neil is a person centred planning coordinator, an accredited ELP Trainer, and a qualified learning disability nurse. Here he tries to explain the importance of listening well, and of being accurate and respectful in how we reflect that listening.

He illustrates his post with this picture by Jean Cocteau: "Beauty and the Beast", and promises to talk further about some of the questions it evokes in him.

This links strongly to our thinking about being more person centred and capacity focused when 'assessing' anyone.


Starter Graphics Kit


The Quality and Hard Wearing Graphics bag comes complete with all you
need to help you with your graphic work and room inside for any other tools
that you favour.

1 box Stabilo Boss assorted Highlighter colours
Paper knife
1 box Inscribe Pastels assorted colurs
2 boxes Mr Sketch pens assorted colours
Masking tape
Pencil with eraser


Process Facilitator props kit

Tibetan Cymbals - to bring the group back together
Squeaky duck/chicken- to act as the 'jargon buster'
Ball and Chain- to represent the 'pull' of the past
Judge's Wig- to represent judgemental attitudes
Talking Stick- to indicate who is talking/who has the floor

props bag


Feedback from a Group of Czech Particpants after three days working with Colin and Derek in Prague on Person Centred Planning and Social Inclusion


What is Person Centred Planning?gypsy path








Person centred planning is a collection of tools and approaches based upon a set of shared values that can be used to plan with a person - not for them . These tools can be used to help the person think about what is important in their lives now and also to think about what would make a good future. Planning should build the person's circle of support and involve all the people who are important in that person's life.

We have a range of experienced facilitators working with us here at Inclusive Solutions for family, team or organisational planning.

Person 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 special segregated places schools, hospital and institutionals into mainstream life - schools and communities.

happy graphicers

Person Centred Planning is built on the values of inclusion and looks at what 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 descisions 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.

Connie Lyle O'Brien and John O'Brien's The Origins of Person -Centered Planning A Community of Practice Perspective is well worth reading.

The book "Person Centred Planning - Research, Practice and Future Directions (2002) by Steve Holburn and Peter Vietze - is also worth reading and has a good chapter person centred planning and organisational change.

Very little research has taken place into person centred planning, however vol. 27 number 4 of the TASH journal (2002) was partly devoted to the theme of evaluating Person Centred Planning and contains a strong paper by John O'Brien on the kind of research mindset that he feels will best serve the values of this area of work.

Inclusive Solutions began in 2012 on trialling PATH as an alternative to the TAC - Team Around the Child Planning processes.

Valuing People Now

"Person centred planning has been shown to work. The world's largest study into person centred planning described how it helps people get improvements in important parts of their lives and indicated that this was at no additional cost"

But -
"too few people have access to proper person centred planning... In too many local authorities, person centred planning is not at the centre of how things are done. The challenge of the next three years is to take all this innovative work and make sure that more – and eventually all – people have real choice and control over their lives and services" Valuing People Now, Department of Health, December 2007

A Little Book About Person Centred Planning by John O'Brien and Connie Lyle O'Brien

All My Life's a Circle: Using the tools Circles, MAPs & PATH by M Falvey, M Forest, J Pearpoint and R Rosenberg

Buliding New Worlds: A Sourcebook for Students with Disabilities in Transition from High School to Adult Life by Beth Mount & Connie Lyle O’Brien

Essential lifestyle planning: A handbook for facilitators. By Michael Smull, Helen Sanderson and Bill Allen


Types of Planning


MAPS and PATH are creative planning tools that utilise graphic facilitaion to collect information and develop positive future plans. MAPS focuses on gathering information for planning - based on the story (history) of a person or organization.



Map for 'Supporting Families' Team

6 Step Process
from Story so far to Action Planning


'...goes directly to the future and implements backwards planning to create a step by step path to a desirable future'. (Inclusion Press, 200jm,,,ew0).

These tools were developed by Jack Pearpoint, Marsha Forest and John O'Brien to help marginalised people be included in society and to enable people to develop a shared vision for the future.


MAP and PATH can be used with individuals and their circle of support, families teams and organisations.

Joesph and his PATH



Both MAP and PATH are facilitated by two trained facilitators - one process facilitator who guides people through the stages and ensures that the person is at the centre and one graphic facilitator who develops a graphic record of the conversations taking place in the room.

Essential Lifestyle Planning

Essential Lifestyle Planning is a method of planning that was developed by Michael Smull and Susan Burke-Harrison to support people who were moving out of institutions into their communities to ensure that learning about what isclick for stephen's ELP important to people and what support they need was captured and used.

An essential lifestyle plan focuses on what is important to someone now andbalancing this with things that we need to know or do to keep the person healthy, happy and safe. An essential lifestyle plan should always have a action plan and it is vital that the plan changes and grows as the person is - it is a living document.

Check out the ELP learning community website for more information

One Page Profiles, Person Centred Thinking and Living Descriptions

Essential Lifestyle Planning is slowing being replaced with one page profiles and living descriptions on the premise that makes sense to start small and build on our learning. Many of the same tools are used - these tools are called the person centred thinking tools.

Check out Babu's excellent one page profile - featured in our latest book 'Keys to Inclusion'.


This is Babu whose One Page Plan appears in the Book. He is very proud!



NEW!!! Niki's One Page Plan




All you need to know about Visual Thinking ...

7 Steps To Drawing Almost Anything




Inclusive Solutions - Quality PATH Graphic

Our Work

Person centred approaches in schools

Extreme person centred thinking

Person centred planning using PATH and MAPS

Training on Person Centered Planning can be provided as introductory workshops or full days or much more in depth over a number of sessions.

We can join with you and your organisation to lead visioning, personal or organisational futures planning using tools such as MAPS or PATH around an individual person or a team searching for consensus and direction.

Inclusive Solutions can model and coach the use of a range of person centered planning processes with children, young people and adults, in collaboration with families and friends. We have and still are working with a number of education teams developing skills in the use of MAPS and PATH.



These tools can replace reviews and transitional planning processes for many young people with high support needs and can break in to destructive cycles of blame and exclusion around young people labelled as 'trouble'.

Wallsall Disabled Young People

Read this  report as an example of the Person Centred work we have facilitated. 

We facilitated three Transition Consultation Events held in Walsall with disabled young people and practitioners which involved the Mayor of Walsall and Senior Officers.

'We think you will agree that the project was a huge success and thank you to everyone who made this possible'Julie Hykin and Carrie James, Case Managers for Health Transition, Walsall CDC


Colin and Derek facilitating PATHThe focus of this work can include:

  • children with challenging behaviour
  • children with disabilities in transition
  • teams planning their future
  • schools visioning
  • councillors clarifying their vison
  • LEA Teams planning ahead
  • schools in special measures
  • Education Action Zone planning
  • and many more possibilities...

circle of 3We actively work to include children and young people in problem solving and planning processes. Pictures, key words, and graphics help support our work

We have been busy this year facilitating PATHs and MAPS around the UK, for all kinds of reasons.

Abbie's MAP: Colin joined Marnie a Staffordshire EP to carry out a MAP with staff and family at the mainstream secondary school that Abbie wishes to go in September where her brother already attends. This was a strategically very important meeting for inclusive secondary education in Staffordshire.

abbie's map


Click here click here for trainingto find out more about our training.


Getting Practical...

In the UK we need to find much more person centred approaches to annual reviews, transition reviews, and all the rest! Our planning too needs to reflect our wish to respectfully involve the student in meaningful ways. Our Individual Education Planning (IEPs) could be so much more person centred and child friendly, both in process and actual plan produced. Check out this completely different but very powerful Individual Education Plan:

Picture of 10 year old boy joe smilingAll About me: This excellent booklet has been written by a young person from Scotland with help from those who know him best, starting with his family.

Essential Lifestyle Planning has informed many of the questions posed in Stephen's book. Radically change your IEP and review work today!!


Another fine example was created by Joe and his family and friends just beforesecondary transfer. It has already proved invaluable.

‘All about Joe'

How do you compile a book like this? Joe's family tell us how.....



solution circleOther Approaches

Circle of Adults and Solution Circles are two excellent approaches to person centred planning and problem solving which we are able to use with your team on request.Both processes can be learned and are powerful ways of supporting inclusion.

Solution Circles: 30 minute Creative Problem Solving Process designed by Marsha Forest and Jack Pearpoint for getting unstuck...Ideal for busy people! This is a short and powerful tool that takes no more than a half hour. It is effective in getting "unstuck" from a problem in life or work. Solution Circles are tools of "community capacity". It assumes and demonstrates that nearby people - in any community or work place have the capacity to help - if asked. It requires a person to ASK - not an easy thing in our culture of privacy and "do it circle of adultsalone". This tool puts all the values we espouse into practice and demonstrates that TOGETHER WE'RE BETTER (small Word doc handout) (web link showing graphic and process).

Circles of Adults (Click for Summary)using both process and graphic facilitation the group is guided through a set of key questions to reach a shared and deeper understanding of the young person's challenging behaviours, unmet emotional needs and to develop fresh strategies to support change.

Jack Pearpoint nd some very inclusive associates have created a wonderful Person Centred CD 'Tools for Change' which covers a whole range of creative tools.

PATH - Solution Circles - MAPS - Circles of Adults and many more problem solving and planning approaches can be brought to your organisation to build futures.

Training and Books

Our Training

Person centred planning and support services for young people with complex needs

Creating community circles

Educational psychologists and person centred planning

Visioning in the early years

Person centred approaches in schools

Extreme person centred thinking

Person centred planning using PATH and MAPS

Graphic facilitation an introduction

"Thanks for enabling me to become an ardent MAP seeker and a fellow PATH finder in our soul searching journey towards inclusion. Thanks for keeping our dreams alive and reminding us that we are never too old enough to set a new goal or to dream a new dream... believing and doing is the brush that converts our dreams into a masterpiece of reality."




A Little Book About Person Centred Planning by John O'Brien and Connie Lyle O'Brien

All My Life's a Circle: Using the tools Circles, MAPs & PATH by M Falvey, M Forest, J Pearpoint and R Rosenberg

Buliding New Worlds: A Sourcebook for Students with Disabilities in Transition from High School to Adult Life by Beth Mount & Connie Lyle O’Brien

Essential lifestyle planning: A handbook for facilitators. By Michael Smull, Helen Sanderson and Bill Allen

Implementing Person-Centered Planning, Voices of Experience

Life Building: Opening windows to change using Personal Futures Planning by Dr. Beth Mount


Person Centred Planning Links

General Information

Email- to request free handout on Person Centred Planning (articles by John and Connie Lyle'Brien)


Person Centred Thinking and Essential Lifestyle Planning