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To the reader

This Guide on Person-Directed Planning has been written to assist families and people with developmental disabilities to plan for their future. It was developed to:

  • highlight the importance of building a life in community
  • show how the process of person-directed planning gives you more choice and control over your lives
  • provide direction during times of transition
  • offer practical suggestions on how you can proceed.

Person-directed planning puts the person with a disability at the heart of important decisions that affect their life.

About this guide


This Guide provides some steps in which to approach person-directed planning.

Change can be exciting and challenging for lots of people. The transition from high school life to life as an adult can be particularly so. It is a time for you as the person leaving high school and your family to make important decisions about the future. These decisions include making choices about education, employment, volunteering, relationships, community participation and social involvement. Person-directed planning is an interactive, dynamic, person-focused, ongoing process that helps bring clarity to the decision-making process. It enables the identification of opportunities and experiences that are available in your community. It will help you to prepare, plan, set goals and take action to assist with a successful transition into life as an adult. Understanding and undertaking the steps involved in person-directed planning is often the first step required to building a good life in community.


This Guide avoids jargon and labels that have traditionally been used to describe people with disabilities, so does not use words like client or consumer. As a person with a disability, this writing has been addressed to 'you,' as the person who is directing the planning process. However, this Guide recognizes that you may want and need to have the help and support of family and/or friends to assist you with decisions. This Guide recognizes that there are many people who want you to have a good life built in community.

About person-directed planning

We use the term person-directed planning throughout this Guide. Some people use phrases like 'person-centred planning' to talk about an ongoing planning process that helps to determine life paths. We prefer the term person-directed because it is clearer about the fact that it is you who is directing the process. Person-directed planning is an ongoing process that begins with listening in order to understand what it is that you want in your life. It builds on your dreams, strengths and capabilities. It is focused on the development of relationships as well as on ways you can access community resources to support a good life. Understanding what is of value and how you can participate in your community is key to the process — things like how you spend your day.

Values and beliefs

There are values and beliefs that are the foundation of person-directed planning. They include:

  • Inclusion — everyone wants to be a participating member of their community
  • Citizenship — rights and responsibilities, valued roles, and choosing from a range of opportunities that enable one to learn, explore and participate
  • Self-determination — everyone wants to have choice and control over their life
  • Community as a First Resource — much of what we want in our life can be found in community - opportunities for jobs, volunteering, recreation, relationships and experiences. Your community is rich in possibilities
  • Contribution and Participation — building on the gifts and talents that we all have will lead each of us to discover our own unique way to contribute and participate in community.

At the heart of all the planning approaches is the belief that every single individual has their own life to lead - a life that is right for them.2 As a result, everyone's plan will be different.


'Being in community' is not just about where we live — it is about our human need to belong and participate with others in families, neighbourhoods, networks and groups. The community is many different things to each person. This Guide acknowledges that you want a sense of belonging and comfort in your life, and it will help you think about your own community, what it has to offer, its diversity and your place in it. It will also help you to think about how you can use your gifts and talents to contribute to a life in community, and how you might build a day that brings meaning to your life. This Guide encourages you to be a participating citizen of your community. This is a principle upon which person-directed planning is built.