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What is Person-Centered Planning?

Updated: Apr 14, 2023

LifeCourseOnline was designed to make Person-Centered Planning accessible for everyone. But what is Person-Centered Planning exactly? And how do you get started?

What is Person-Centered Planning?

While balancing every appointment, service, and support that goes into managing care, we sometimes forget that care is about more than meeting health needs. Person-centered planning aims to approach care holistically, increasing an individual’s quality of life by their own definition. A person-centered approach means focusing on the elements of care, support, and treatment that matter most to the individual at the center of that plan. It rethinks the relationship between people and services to ensure that those receiving care have a real voice in the e creation and ongoing management of their own care plan.

Person-Centered Planning (PCP) originated in the UK in 2001 as a response to traditional services and supports that felt disconnected and incomplete (2). Although the concept has primarily been used for life planning for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, it is now being embraced as a valuable process for other populations with supported living needs, including children, people with physical disabilities, people with mental health issues, and seniors (3).

The term ‘person-centered care’ is often used broadly to cover a wide range of principles and methods. There is no single agreed-upon definition of the concept. One of the reasons for this is that person-centered care is still an emerging and evolving area. Even the name of this approach is under debate! Many prefer using the term ‘person-directed' over ‘person-centered’.

It is, in many ways, impossible to precisely define person-centered practices or care because true person-centered care will always adapt to suit the unique needs, circumstances, and preferences of the individual receiving care.

The Health Foundation, a UK-based organization dedicated to building better health and health care, released a framework of person-centered care made up of 4 key principles:

  1. Affording people dignity, compassion, and respect.

  2. Offering coordinated care, support, or treatment.

  3. Offering personalized care, support, or treatment.

  4. Supporting people to recognize and develop their own strengths and abilities to enable them to live an independent and fulfilling life.

These principles may seem straightforward, but when care responsibility falls to large systems (or even across multiple caregivers), they can easily become deprioritized.

What would a Person-Centered approach mean for you or your loved one?

Whether you’re using PCP to determine service needs, embark on future planning, or reevaluate your current supports, weaving the key principles of person-centered care into your practices naturally leads to a higher quality of care and better outcomes.

  • More Relevant Planning Everyone’s wants and needs are unique and evolve as we age. A truly person-centered approach takes this into account, even throughout times of transition or crisis, allowing for more relevant future planning.

  • More Effective Use of Resources A one-size-fits-all approach to planning means we are forcing similar solutions on different people in different circumstances. This leads to wasted energy and resources since what is effective for one person may not work for another.

  • A Stronger Support Network A person-centered approach leads to stronger and longer-lasting relationships between individuals and caregivers. Providing person-centered care demonstrates the respect and receptiveness that everyone expects to receive from those who are there to support them.

  • Increased Independence Finally, a person-centered approach promotes independence and self-advocacy. It encourages the person at the center of that plan to articulate their needs and surround themselves with people who are willing to support their unique vision for their good life.

How to get started

To start implementing a person-centered approach into your care plan, you can begin with as little as changing your frame of mind to be more individual-focused. You can also ask your local services and support teams if they implement or follow PCP principles and if you can become more involved in your care planning.

Once you’re ready to bring a Person-Centered approach into your or your loved one’s care plan, LifeCourseOnline is here to help. We believe this life-changing method should be available to anyone receiving or providing care, no matter where you are located or whether your local service providers have embraced person-centered practices. As a self-guided online platform and program, LifeCourseOnline allows you to create a personalized plan and implement person-centered thinking across your support network.

Visit to sign up or learn more.


  1. Person-centred care made simple, The Health Foundation. January 2016.

  2. HM Government, Valuing People Now. 2001-2009.

  3. Helen Bown, Gill Bailey, and Helen Sanderson, Person-Centred Thinking with Older People. 2015. click here for PDF

  4. The emergence of person-centered Planning as evidence based practice. 2006. Helen Sanderson, Jeanette Thompson, Jackie Kilbane. Click here for PDF

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