Change that leads to better lives

Blog: Better lives for disabled people - it starts with the person, not a plan!

As part of our seasonal 12 days of human rights campaign, Nic Crosby, Lyn Griffiths and Amanda Nally share their thoughts around person centred planning.

12 days human rights day 2
12 days of human rights, day 2: Person centred planning starts with the person not a plan. NDTi logo. Image of a tree made up of 12 stars and supported by a pair of hands.

A plan is not an outcome; it's a starting line, not the finish. Planning is the first step toward empowering someone for a better life—whether leaving the family home, exiting an institution, returning from the hospital, or simply charting a course to a brighter future. Yet, it doesn't commence with a blueprint; it begins with the person and a conversation; centred on their narrative, their loved ones, what matters most to them, and, fundamentally, their human rights.

Disabled individuals are unequivocal—they demand society to uphold their human rights, recognising them as equal citizens. Be it the UK's Human Rights Act or the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, it's evident that, for those we plan with or advocate for, their rights have been disregarded thus far.

A robust, person-centred plan becomes the catalyst to actualise these rights. Rights to liberty, decision-making, ownership enjoyment (per the UK Human Rights Act), and the 'Right to Live Independently and be included in the community' (UNCRPD Article 19) are the bedrock of what a well-crafted plan can bring to life.

This list starkly highlights how distant disabled people are from having their rights respected.

While planning methods may differ—be it writing, drawing, or recording thoughts—weaving this information into a life-enhancing plan centres around the person's rights, irrespective of the support they require. Plans need purpose, the outcomes set out by the person, which will echo their human rights, for example, a right to liberty and security. The outcome will be person centred and will explain what can be achieved if the right support is provided, as illustrated below:

In Leeds, a new organisation set up as part of NDTi’s Small Supports programme showcased the transformative power of person-centred planning. During an evaluation visit, one of the people supported captured the essence of making the 'right to liberty' tangible.

Person centred quote
Quote: "nothing is locked, just the front door and I have the key! one is saying's my space, more independent." (individual).

Person-centred planning often faces scepticism—deemed too aspirational, with calls to lower expectations. Detractors miss the point: good planning is about letting people articulate their truth, aspirations, important connections, dreams, and navigating both the tough and the good days. It means truly seeing and listening to fellow human beings, comprehending the past violations of their rights, and, through a clear, coherent plan, taking the first step to breathe life into those cherished human rights for more people.

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