Definitions of Person Centred Planning, Thinking and Approaches

Definitions of Person-Centredness

Why You might want a Person Centred Plan
Who is Person Centred Planning For?
What is Person Centred Planning Like?
Why Services Should Use Person Centred Approaches
Who Should Do Person Centred Planning?

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Personalisation in
Social Care

How do we define person centredness?

This page collects together some of the ways people have tried to define person centredness and person centred approaches. If you know of a definition of person centred planning that would add something to those listed here, or give a picture of what person centred work means to you, please let us know!

“Person Centred Planning is a process of learning how a person wants to live and then describing what needs to be done to help the person move toward that life”

(Michael Smull and Helen Sanderson 2005)

Click here for a Youtube video where Michael Smull talks to Helen Sanderson about definitions of Person Centred Planning, Thinking and Approaches

"When we use the term "person centred", we mean activities which are based upon what is important to the person from their own perspective  and which contribute to their full inclusion in society. Person centred planning discovers and acts on what is important to a person. Person centred approaches design and deliver services and supports based on what is important to a person. Hence person centred planning can promote person centred approaches."

(Valuing People Now, Planning With People, Guidance for Implementation Groups)


"Person centred practice pulls together the best of what we now know about ways of working that maximise the control individuals have to live their own lives as citizens and on their own terms."

Jackie Kilbane, Jeanette Thompson and Helen Sanderson (Person Centred Practice for Professionals OUP, 2008)

 "Person Centred Planning and Support Planning are simple ways to achieve co-production, enabling people to shape and commission their own services, and to make decisions about how they want to spend their personal budgets to live their lives"
(Personalisation through Person Centred Planning, Department of Health 2010)

 "To be person-centred is to put the person in the middle of our thinking and get to know the person in fresh and vital ways that set the pattern for everything else we do in partnership with that person...Being person centred isn't writing plans on paper. It's complex interaction of investments and commitments that leads to real change in people's lives."

(Beth Mount 2011)

 "It's about focus on and with a person... We're pretty good at doing stuff for people and about people and around people and under people. But it's not all that often that we pay  attention and listen carefully enough to be with a person so that we hear and see gifts and capacities that are ready to bloom if they are nurtured"

(Jack Pearpoint 2011)    

 "Resisting the forces of social devaluation requires all the people involved to act from their freedom. If people can't say no, then yes doesn't mean very much. But many human service settings are zones of compliance in which relationships are subordinated to and constrained by complex and detailed rules. In those environments, unless staff commit themselves to be people's allies and treat the rules and boundaries and structures as constraints to be creatively engaged as opposed to simply conforming, person centred work will be limited to improving the conditions of people's confinement in services"

(John O'Brien 2011)

(latter 3 definitions are all from "Conversations on Citizenship and Person-Centered Work" (2011), Inclusion Press, Editors John O'Brien and Carol Blessing)

 "Art is a reality not a definition; in as much as it approaches a reality, it approaches perfection, and in as much as it approaches a mere definition, it becomes imperfect and untrue" 
Benjamin Haydon (1786 -1846)
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