Connections - 09.30.22

Getting to Your “Why”: The Cornerstone of Person-Centered Practices

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Person-centered practices is a cornerstone of best practices for human services organizations. As defined by the National Center on Advancing Person-Centered Practices and Systems (NCAPPS), “Person-centered planning is a way to assist people needing HCBS services and supports to construct and describe what they want and need to bring purpose and meaning to their life.” (Administration for Community Living, 2020)

Many organizations have different ideas about how to accomplish person centered practices and there are a variety of frameworks to help providers accomplish the end goal of putting people at the center of their service delivery and assuring that people supported are accessing what they need to accomplish their personal hopes and dreams. At the core of person centered practices each provider must define “why” they want to be person centered in the first place, and that that goes beyond the scope of compliance.

Author Simon Sinek writes about the “Golden Circle” wherein “why” is at the core of the circle followed by “how” and “what” in concentric circles around “why”. The “why” speaks to our mission to support people to live the life they desire. The “How” is about your service delivery model and the approach an organization takes to help plan for person centered supports while “what” is the actual support and services delivered to produce the desired outcomes of people supported. Oftentimes the issue becomes that, over time, our attention turns to building skills that make us better at what we do and make us distinguished in the “how” but causes us to lose the essence of “why” we do what we do in the first place.

The “why” should be the heartbeat of our thinking. It should be what drives the decision making process. This is why person centered thinking is essential, because if you are only focused on person centered planning, without your heart being driven by your “why,” your organization will be a warehouse for a set of pretty papers, or a nicely written plan with no impact or effect on desired outcomes.

The “why” of person centered practices requires a shift in the way we think. It requires that supporters have a heart to value people supported for who they are and what they contribute to society, it requires that providers have a passion to help people discover their hopes and dreams and to help people supported see beyond what is into what is possible. It is a plan to help people go from present in their community to contributing and making an impact.

Once an organization has clearly defined their “why” they must bring the right people to the table. This is often referred to as a supported person’s circle of support. The circle of support is made up of the following:

  • The person supported
  • The people who the person supported chooses to have in their circle
  • The people who know and love the person being supported
  • Professionals who assist the person supported
  • People who the person supported trusts

A solid circle of support will be able to create an environment of inclusion and equity wherein everyone at the table has a voice, but most importantly the voice of the person supported is heard and respected.

When we are focused on Person Centered Thinking we are able to create equity among team members with decisions driven by the hopes and dreams of the person supported while all parties have the opportunity to share, express themselves, and be heard. The process often becomes one of negotiation wherein everyone shares a central “why” or outcome desired for the person receiving support. Equity involves trying to understand and give people what they need to enjoy full, healthy lives. Equality, in contrast, aims to ensure that everyone gets the same things in order to enjoy full, healthy lives. Person Centered Planning is our vehicle to help establish equity for those we are supporting. So the ADA law has established equality…people are recognized as equal, but we are still trying to build equity among all members of the support team starting with the person supported at the end of all decision making.

At the core of all Person Centered Practices is a set of tools and techniques that guide a person and their circle of support to tease out key elements of Dignity of Risk and Duty of Care to assure room for risk, while providing the tools and supports to guide a person supported to make informed life choices. In person centered this type of balance is often referred to as the balance of Important to and Important For. What is important to a person includes those things in life which help us to be satisfied, content, comforted, fulfilled and happy, and can be further defined as relationships, status and control, things to do and places to go, routines and rituals, rhythm or pace of life, and things to have. What is important for a person can be defined as issues of health, safety, and what is necessary to help a person be valued by their community as they define it.

Once you have your organizational “why,” an appropriate circle of support with equitable voices at the table, and you begin to define what is important to and important for a person supported you can begin to DREAM. DREAM is an acronym that can guide the Person Centered Planning Process to help people achieve their goals.

  • D: Discover a life desired, Define goals and priorities, Develop abilities
  • R: Realize what is possible, relate the shared vision to those in my circle of support
  • E: Engage members of the persons circle of support and community
  • A: Assess needs and align resources to help achieve goals and dreams
  • M: Motivate each other to reach for more and move forward.

(Source: Ishya “Shae” Dotson, Director of Person Centered Practices, Therap Services Inc.)

Person-centered practices is more than just a plan, is a promise to listen and a promise to act on what is learned. It goes beyond great stories and gathering data to meet compliance. It is learning from those stories and data to inform the team of supporters on what comes next for people supported. Person-centered practices is a commitment to put the person supported in control of their supports so that they can use supports and services to assist with being the valued member of their community they want to be and accomplish their hopes and dreams.

At Therap, we offer a variety of tools that can help facilitate person centered practices in your organization. Within our suite of solutions providers have access to:

If you’d like to learn more about how Therap can help your agency with Person Centered Practices or, if you are a Therap User and wish to learn more about these available features, I invite you to reach out to us. Get started today.

Join me next time to take a deeper dive into different frameworks that provide discovery tools and techniques that can move us past the philosophy of person-centered thinking into the process of person-centered planning.

Heather Daily is the Business Development Consultant at Therap Services. Heather can be reached at [email protected].