There is a growing body of international evidence to suggest the beneficial effects of person centred planning for people with disabilities, for example: person centred planning can alert people to choices available to them and support them in moving towards their preferred options (Cash and Jefferies, Gloucestershire Partnerships Trust). In Ireland there is growing evidence that person centred planning has a very beneficial impact.
It should be understood that person centred planning is no panacea, however:- it is no guarantee of a better life, in and of itself… and many positive changes for people will be achieved without using person centred planning at all (Ritchie et al, 2003).
Much of the effectiveness of person centred planning would seem to rest in the way it is conducted (Connolly, 2001, Radcliffe & Hegarty, 2001 and The Circles Network, 2004) and the more general person centredness of the overall context in which it is pursued (Sanderson, 2000 and Ritchie et al, 2003).
Although it would seem that well developed person centred plans that are acted upon, can make considerable difference to individuals’ lives, it is important to bear in mind that there currently exist few good quality, systematic evaluations of person-centred planning. Exceptions include, for example: a study completed by the UK Department of Health (2005 - unpublished) which indicates beneficial effects. Clearly, there is a real need for ongoing research in the area.
It is important to note that a person centred plan may not be needed or wanted by everyone.
A person with a disability may, however, find person centred planning particularly useful in providing him or her (and his or her closest family and friends) with:
Person centred planning may be viewed and used as a life-long process and support. It can also be used as an occasional or one-time-only undertaking, if that is what a person wants. It has, for example, been found to be particularly useful in times of change or transition in a person’s life (see, for example, Miner and Bates, 1997).