Person Centred Planning Skills

This twelve-week, accredited course provides a comprehensive introduction to the person centred approach to disability and empowerment. It combines online learning with a series of intensive workshops that will provide you with the knowledge, skills and abilities required to use person centred planning to:

  • Support a person to develop their personal profile
  • Facilitate them and their circle of support to produce an action plan that will achieve their personal goals

Who Is This Course For?

The course is aimed at people about to begin a person centred plan with an individual. This includes:

  • Care Worker
  • Health Care Assistant
  • Personal Assistant
  • Family Support Worker
  • Home Support Worker
  • Community Care Worker

At a Glance

  • Audience Care Workers, Health Care & Personal Assistants, Family or Home Support Workers, Community Care Workers
  • FormatBlended
  • Duration12 weeks
  • AwardQQI Level 5 Minor Award – 2 Component Certificates
  • Credits30 (15 per certificate)
  • Fees€450
  • Start DateAutumn 2019

Continue to Application Centre

Generally, participants are experienced practitioners who have no formal qualifications in the area but are looking to take an accredited programme (QQI level 5 award) that provides:

  • A comprehensive introduction to person centredness
  • The opportunity to practice the person centered planning approach

Course Details

Learning Objectives

After successfully completing the course you should be able to:

  • Explain the principles, philosophy and value base that underpins a person centred approach to disability and empowerment
  • Describe the main steps in the person centred planning process
  • Identify and perform the key skills of an effective person centred practitioner
  • Use the concepts of empowerment and disempowerment to evaluate a service being provided to an individual
  • Support a person with a disability to develop their personal profile
  • Facilitate a person with a disability, with the support of members of their circle of support, to:
    • Identify their dreams, goals and support needs for their future
    • Produce an action plan
  • Develop and discuss solutions to the challenges of working with individuals using a person centred focus that empowers them to make informed choices and decisions


MODULE 1 – Empowerment & Advocacy

Unit 1: History & Concept of Empowerment

  • Empowerment for People with Disabilities – Overview
  • History of Empowerment
  • Empowerment & Legislation
  • Methods of Empowerment

Unit 2: Qualities of Empowerment

  • Qualities of Empowerment

Unit 3: Advocacy as a Method of Empowerment

  • Definitions & Development of Advocacy
  • Growth of Advocacy in Ireland & Abroad
  • Principles, Forms & Ethics of Advocacy
  • Values of Advocacy in your Everyday Work

Unit 4: Facilitation Skills to Support Empowerment of People with Disabilities

  • Empowering Practice in your Role
  • The Process of Empowerment through Effective Facilitation
  • The Principled Advocacy Framework
  • Facilitating Empowerment – Core Elements

Unit 5: Empowerment in your Working Environment

  • The Challenges Faced by People with Disabilities
  • Levels of Empowerment
  • Service Providers & Support Workers
  • How Empowering is your Work Environment?
  • How Empowering is your Organisation?

MODULE 2 – Person Centred Planning

Unit 1: Person Centred Planning: The Context

  • The Service System
  • Service System Models
    • Traditional Service Model
    • O’Brien’s Basic Strategy
    • Customer-driven Model
  • Exploring Values
  • Five valued Experience & Service Accomplishments
  • The Concept of Inclusion
  • Circle of Friends
  • The Concept of Giftedness
  • Empowerment
  • Self-Determination & Advocacy
  • Service  Brokerage

Unit 2: Person Centred Planning: The Principles

  • Planning – Essential Features
  • Kolb’s Planning/Learning Cycle
  • Person Centred Planning – Key Features

Unit 3: Person Centred Planning: The Steps

  • The PCP Process – Overview
  • Phase 1: Discovering the Person
  • Phase 2: Capacity Searching & Safeguards Search
  • Phase 3: Vision making: Images of Desirable Futures
  • Phase 4: Circles of Support
  • Phase 5: Constructive Actions
  • Phase 6: Reflection & Learning

Unit 4: Person Centred Planning: Skills & Techniques

  • The Facilitator – Roles & Skills
  • Facilitating Groups
  • Problem Solving, Negotiating & Resolving Conflict – Methods, Approaches & Challenges
  • Managing Time
  • Managing Change
  • Developing Creative Skills
  • Acting as a Coach
    • Person Centred Planning & Leadership
    • Managing Creative Tension
    • Teams, Partnership & Collaboration

Unit 5: Person Centred Planning: The Wider Organisation

  • Organisations & Person Centred Planning
  • Systems, Loops & Service Deficits
  • Organisational Quality & Personal Outcomes
  • Personal Outcomes & Measures
  • Personal Outcomes & the 5 Valued Experiences


Successful completion of the course is dependent on undertaking a series of short assignments. These involve:

  • Completing a practical project that ties together your learning and professional practice (title: Designing a Person Centred Plan)
  • Engaging in critical reflection on your experiences (title: “A Personal Reflection”)

Taking the Course

The course uses a ‘blended’ approach which combines online learning, virtual tutorials and face-to face workshops.

Our online learning materials are explicitly designed to accommodate the pressures that come with trying to balance work, life and learning. They make it possible to build study time around your work schedule. These are accessible through our learning centre which provides a platform for you to study, collaborate and communicate with your fellow learners. Regular online tutorials will expand your knowledge of the topic and answer any questions you have as you study.

Each workshop focuses on extending your understanding of the subject matter and helping you apply it in your working practice. The one-day session will be led by a subject matter expert who also has extensive experience in providing coaching/training to people working in the human services and non-profit sector.

Discussion, collaboration and the sharing of experiences are actively encouraged in order for the workshop to achieve one of its primary goals:

  • Facilitating the application of knowledge and skills acquired during the course to address real world challenges in a practical and effective manner.

Underpinning all of this is our learning community. This is made up of tutors who have extensive first-line experience, learning support staff who understand the human challenges people can face when attending college and our learners who are defined by their commitment to supporting each other.

We believe this creates a learning experience that is unique to the Open Training College, one that meets the specific requirements of people working in our sector and improves the quality of service our users receive. This is know as the Supported Open Learning Model. You can read more about it here.

The Learning Experience

The Tutor’s View – Claire Hopkins

What do you think the course gives people taking it?

Participants benefit from obtaining the “big picture” of what PCP actually is – not the jargon and the idealism but the real power of person centredness. They learn how to implement it so that it has a meaningful impact on the ground on a daily basis. It is a reenergising opportunity to reflect on the core values that should underpin their practice.

Returning to education can be stressful for a lot of people. How does the college help them cope?

We’re all first line professionals so we understand what it is like to go back to study after an extended period of time, if you work in the sector. We provide a comprehensive set of supports but at the heart of it are our tutors who try to tailor their support to suit how people learn in order for you to have the chance to achieve success.

What changes do you see in people as the course progress?

The course seems to unearth skills and knowledge in people they probably didn’t think they had. The content and interactive style identifies their strengths and areas in need of improvement in their practice. It provides the first steps in addressing these to reap the benefits back in their service and make a real difference with the people they work for. This is especially evident for people working in a traditional service delivery culture who are only recently getting to grips with person centredness.

More generally, what motivated you to become a tutor in the first place?

I love being a part of a person’s learning journey. It is a privilege to support people initially grappling with the subject and wondering how it and indeed how they can make a difference! Then at the end of the course to see the positive impact their learning has on their personal and professional development.


The course is certified as a Level 5 Award by QQI/FETAC. Successful participants will obtain two component certificates:

  • Person Centred Focus to Disability (5N1728) (15 credits)
  • Empowering the Individual (5N1749) (15 credits)

These sit on the Major Level 5 Award: Cert in Intellectual Disability Practice (5M3782). The component certificates count towards two components of the eight to be successfully completed for this Level 5 Major Award.

Next Steps

Dates & Duration

The next course starts in Autumn 2019. It runs for 12 weeks.


The course costs €450.

Booking a Place

Visit our Online Application Centre.

How Can We Help?

Contact us if you want to know more about the course.

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