Although personal injury settlement planning (settlement planning) might be suggestive of "person-centered planning", (PCP) the latter term has a special meaning for disabled persons.
Surprisingly, PCP is rarely, if ever, specifically discussed during educational conferences sponsored by structured settlement, settlement planning - or even special needs - professional associations.
This omission cannot be blamed on a lack of available resources. For example, Cornell University's Employment and Disability Institute features a PCP Education Site with an overview of the PCP process, a self-study PCP course, and a compendium of downloadable resources. See also: Cornell Disability Studies, Research, Statistics.
An alternative explanation for settlement planners and structured settlement consultants might be the assumption that once a settlement occurs, and/or a structured settlement is funded, professional responsibility for matching funding with actual needs shifts to settlement trustees, guardians, special needs attorneys and social workers.
Even accepting this explanation, however, shouldn't settlement planning incorporating structures consider, or at least be consistent with, PCP and its purposes?
Of equal importance, doesn't PCP provide an alternative, educational perspective for settlement planners and structured settlement professionals to re-think such fundamental industry issues as: "know your client", "needs analysis", "best practices", "industry standards" and "product suitability", as well as "professional qualifications, responsibility and accountability"?
Frank Johns' PCP Paper
For settlement planners and structured settlement consultants seeking additional PCP background, insights and analysis, S2KM recommends a Frank Johns' paper titled "Person-Centered Planning in Guardianship: A Little Hope for the Future." Johns' 2012 paper was published in the Utah Law Review (ULR) and delivered during the Third National Guardian Summit.
Johns, a former NAELA President and Editor in Chief of the NAELA Journal, has been a popular speaker at many elder law, special needs and special needs planning conferences.
Among his contributions to structured settlements, Johns delivered a paper titled "Request for Proposals: Connecting Structured Settlement Professionals with Special Needs Attorneys" at the SSP 2008 Annual Conference. Section 6.02 ("Selecting Structured Settlement Consultants") of "Structured Settlements and Periodic Payment Judgments" (S2P2J) features and summarizes his SSP paper.
Johns premises his PCP paper upon an indictment of guardianship in the United States:
- "[W]here vulnerable citizens, those mentally ill or mentally or physically challenged, have been condemned to a perverse legal system that protects property over the person"; and
- Which "is well noted for a deep-rooted culture of paternalistic practices that rarely pursue the wants and needs of adjudicated incompetent persons."
By contrast, following the 2006 passage of Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, many other countries have replaced guardianship with "supported decision making" (a PCP-related concept) "meaning that there is no judicial process or legal intervention that removes a person’s individual rights."
Johns views PCP as a solution to the problems of guardianship in the United States. His paper describes how PCP can be incorporated into guardianship and examines the extent to which the Uniform Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Act (UGPPA) and some states have incorporated PCP into guardianship.
Although he identifies several PCP definitions, including one published by CMS, Johns concludes there is no standard PCP definition. "According to experts in the field," Johns writes, PCP "is described more as a spectrum of processes based on one general philosophical background."
Compared with traditional "system-driven" guardianship, Johns views PCP as applying the principle of self-determination and establishing a vision based upon the disabled person's abilities and strengths. By contrast, Johns states, "conventional service models operate for, not with, the individuals being served" with support decisions "often focusing on deficits and negative behavior which can create a disempowered mindset."
Johns' paper describes three PCP tools with accompanying case studies:
- Important To vs. Important For Sorts - Important To "includes what people are saying with words and behavior" compared with Important For which "includes what keeps individuals safe and healthy and a valued member of community."
- Relationship Maps - which offer "an effective way of finding out who to talk to and who to listen to when a guardian is making decisions."
- Working vs. Not Working Analyses - which help to "determine what needs to change, what needs to stay the same, and what should be enhanced."
To effectively implement PCP for guardians, Johns recommends: 1) accountability and monitoring; and 2) better training and education.
This same PCP prescription might also enhance and improve structured settlement and personal injury settlement planning.