Implementing Person-Centered Planning:
Voices of Experience
By John O'Brien & Connie Lyle O'Brien, Editors. Toronto: Inclusion Press, 2002. 420 pages, paperback. ISBN 1-895418-50-X. $25.00 (A sequel to the authors’ A Little Book About Person-Centered Planning (1998).   

Michael W. Smull observed in 1996 that “person centered planning [had] undergone a transformation [since 1991]. It has gone from something mysterious that only a few dedicated and skilled people did to something where nearly everyone says ‘I have been doing person centered planning for years.’ Person centered planning and person centered services have become trendy. It has become a litmus test for being politically correct. Any activity where people are asked what they like or want is seen as person centered. Further, states, regions, and counties are beginning to require (or to consider requiring) person centered planning for everyone receiving services or entering services.”
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This collection is not about the trendy or easy uses of PCP, as the editors write in their introduction: “There is a hard way and an easy way to narrow the gap between current capacity and vision enough to make person-centered planning simple. The hard way involves increasing capacity so that a system finds it easier to offer personalized supports and a community is more familiar with people with disabilities as active participants. The easy way shrinks vision to match current capacity by keeping people’s expectations within whatever a system can do without changing much. People get stuck within the box made by whatever a system finds it easiest to do. Person-centered planning activities can serve either people who choose the easy way or people who choose the harder way.” (p.5).

That we need to support vulnerable people with creative and imaginative ways to express their thoughts and wishes is illustrated in the Meyer Shevin 's nightmare scenario of how team meetings etc must seem to many vulnerable people who don’t speak (p.197):

“Imagine this: You arrive, unaccompanied, at a party you’ve been told in being held in your honor. When you get there, you find that all the others are wearing formal gowns and tuxedos—everyone but you. There us an elaborate array of food and drink, but you are allergic to everything on the buffet. Periodically, the other guests start to engage in an elaborate, intricate dance, which you have never seen before, to music you cannot hear. Hardly anyone speaks to you; eventually, someone does, but turns away before you reply. You feel increasingly helpless and ghostlike.”

Thirty contributors explore different ways to think about PCP, its possibilities and limitations, and the necessary conditions for its success:
. Pete Ritchie, A Turn for the Better (defining features of PCP with reference to mental health)

· Connie Lyle O'Brien & John O'Brien, The Origins of Person-Centered Planning (history

· Michael Smull, A Plan Is Not an Outcome (people need control of resources to implement their plans)

· David & Faye Wetherow, Community-Building & Commitment-Building (with some Canadian examples)

· Beth Mount, John O'Brien & Connie Lyle O'Brien, Increasing the Chances for Deep Change (12 resources that increase chances of real change in people’s lives)

· Steve Holburn, The Value of Measuring Person-Centered Planning (including a bibliography of measuring processes and outcomes)

· David Pitonyak, Opening the Door (exploding typical ways of understanding challenging behaviour)

· Mary Romer, Two Is Not Enough (based on family experience)

· Steve Holburn, The Weird Guy (a short story about encountering capacity)

· John O'Brien, Great Questions and The Art of Portraiture

· Beth Mount, The Art and Soul of Person-Centered Planning

· Jo Krippenstapel, The
Rhode Island Facilitators Forum

· Mary Jo Almina Caruso & Kathy Lee, Some Words Along the Way (based on a long term project to develop competent facilitators)

· Michael Smull, Helping Staff Support Choice (a helpful way to clarify staff responsibility as people’s freedom increases)

· Mayer Shevin, Communication Ally: the “missing-link” in PCP. Reflections on how people with communication impairments can take part in their own planning, s

. Karen Green McGowan, Getting Beyond Sick (medical obstacles and health benefits of PCP)

· Susannah Joyce, Mutual Learning: Involving People Who Use Mental Health Services

· Sally Shemsdorf, Sequoia: Planning with Senior Parents

· Connie Lyle O'Brien & Beth Mount, Pathfinders: Transition to Adult Life (in NYC)

· Connie Lyle O'Brien & John O'Brien, Large Group Process for Person-Centered Planning

· Debra McLean, A Simple Half-Hitch (using PCP to assist people succeed in jobs)

· Anne O'Bryan, Vocational Profiles (a form of PCP focused on supported employment)

· Jack Pealer & Sandra Landis, Some Beginnings (a process to influence a state’s deinstitutionalization plans)

· Michael Smull, Thinking About Support Broker Roles (conditions necessary for service coordination)

· Helen Sanderson, Person-Centered Teams (team development process to ensure that PCPs are implemented in the daily reality of service settings)

· Pat Fratangelo & Jeff Strully, The Challenges of Person-Centered Work to Agency Leaders (moving their agencies from group-based programs to personalized supports)

· Martin Routledge, Helen Sanderson & Rob Greig, Planning with People: A National Strategy (in the UK).