Personal Empowerment
Individualized Support

Person-Centered Services

Overview and Information

What are "Person-Centered Services"?

Person-centered services is an approach to providing services based on social and individual empowerment. In summary, services that are Person-Centered place emphasis on transforming the options available to an individual, rather than on “fixing” or changing the individual. It is a set of approaches designed to assist persons in planning for their life, and the providing support towards acheiving their goals.

How do Person-Centered Services Work?

Person-centered service providers such as Employment Links discover and act on what is important to the individual, ensuring that persons with disabilities have choices in their daily lives.

Services that are Person-Centered place emphasis on continual listening and learning, focusing on what important to the individual both now and in the future. Such conversations and supports include family, friends, social workers, case managers, home staff, guardians, employment support agency, and all other significant people in the individual’s life. Person-centered services involves the individual receiving the service (and other persons listed above) in developing a CSSP that allows for community participation and quality of life for the individual. In contrast, traditional models of planning have focused on the person’s deficits and negative behaviors, labelling the person and creating a disempowering mindset from the start.

A CSSP for each person is updated as and when the person and their team decide that changes are needed or wanted, or when a goal outcome is achieved. In this scenario, the new plan goes into effect after the individual’s semi-annual (or annual) team meeting.

There are five key areas that are important in shaping an individual's quality of life. Services are evaluated based upon how they enable the individual to:

  1. Share ordinary places
  2. Make choices
  3. Develop abilities
  4. Be treated with respect and have a valued social role
  5. Grow in relationships

Why does Employment Links Provide Person-Centered Services?

Person-centered services offer an alternative to traditional methods, placing the individual at the center of the decision-making. The process focuses on discovering the person’s gifts, skills and capabilities, and on listening and conversing about what is really important to the person. The person-centered approach is based on the values of human rights, independence, and social inclusion. The services are designed to enable individuals to direct their own services and supports in a personalized, empowering way.

It is essential that Employment Links’ staff make a commitment to strive for person-centeredness in all of their activities with Individuals. However, it is equally important that Employment Links’ staff understand what the person’s CSSP states and to follow that plan without deviation, since the Individual and their team created this plan based on what the Individual has decided he or she wants to achieve.

Person-centered thinking challenges us all to actively listen to the people we serve and to those who know them best in order to understand what they want for their lives. This enables us to help support the individual in ways that will increase their success at living as independently as they are able, and allows them to contribute to the extent that they choose to community life, including finding and maintaining paid community-based jobs, if that is what they choose.

Sample Person-Centered Planning Questions

Below are a pair of question sets that provide a general idea of the focus of person-centered planning conversations. These are samples provided by the Minnesota Department of Human Services. The full sample document is available here (link opens in new tab) .

Sample Questions for Initial Planning

  • What are your goals for service outcomes?
  • What are your preferences related to:
    • Time you wake up in the morning?
    • Time you go to bed?
    • What your favorite foods are?
    • What are foods you don’t like?
    • Whom you prefer to have direct support service provided from?
  • Do you take any medications?
  • Do you need help with your medications?
  • What are some of your interests?
  • Do you have any hobbies?
  • What are things you like to do in the community?
  • Is there an activity or skill that you would like to learn?
  • Do you have any special relationships?
  • Do you work in the community?

Sample Program Evaluation and Progress Review Questions

  • Do you feel your relationships are supported by staff?
  • What do you like about your home?
  • Is there anything that bothers you about your home?
  • Do you like the people you live with?
  • Do you feel the house you live in is safe?
  • Do you feel any rules in your house are unfair?
  • Do you have a private place to go to at home?
  • Do you have goals to meet at home?
  • Do you want to work?
  • Is there anything that bothers you at work?
  • Do you have specific goals set at work?
  • Do you feel that staff treats you with dignity and respect?
  • Do you feelthat your privacy is respected?
  • Do you feel that decisionsyou make are respected?
  • Do you feel that you are given the opportunity to be as independent as possible