Creating a Person Centered Support Plan Builder

Product Design Contractor, Bios Corp
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Bios Corp is a provider of support for individuals living with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Using what the industry calls Person Centered Practices, they devise personalized Individual Support Plans (ISPs) that fit each client's unique goals, needs, and desires for a fulfilling life.

Person Centered Thinking is the approach that caretakers use to empathize with what makes life for the person they're supporting fulfilling and worth living. Person Centered Thinking seeks to uncover not only aspects of a person's life that is important for them but also to them.

My Role

I was contracted by Bios Corp  to help redesign the tools they used to build support plans for IDD individuals. Partnering with the Product Owner, I interviewed and collaborated with leaders at Bios Corp, Person Centered Thinking professionals, as well as Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) in order to provide design recommendations for a revamped enterprise solution.

Executive Summary

Terminal Goal

Enable ISPs that truly fulfill the needs AND wants of the individuals they were made for.


Many support agencies like Bios Corp understand the importance of establishing a Person Centered Thinking approach for their business and the people they serve. However, by the time support tasks reach the Direct Support Professionals (staff responsible for daily care), any Person Centered context is lost and DSPs are left not understanding how to effectively provide for people they care for.


We created a Support Plan Builder that incorporates, maintains, and encourages Person Centered Thinking as an integral part of the process. With easily accessible information about what is important for and to each individual, the builder seeks to ensure any task created is a direct result of that information.

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Users want to do the right thing.

I first set out to understand user needs by speaking to subject matter experts. This involved recurring meetings with the Product Owner, leaders within Bios Corp, Person Centered Thinking experts, and Direct Support Professionals. Interviews resulted in user stories we used to help us stay focused on who we were solving for.


As a Person Centered Thinking Expert, I want to help facilitate Person Centered practices  so that ISPs created for individuals are based on their desires for a whole and fulfilling life.


Person Centered Information Gathering

Before any support plan in input into the system and made available for DSPs, the Support Team, consisting of  the Case Manager, Person Centered Thinking Experts, Family, Friends, Physicians, Medical Team, Nutritionists, and anyone with deep insight into the individual's life,  gets into a room to do a Person Centered Information Gathering. Their goal at this stage is to seek out any important information about supporting the individual.

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They use maps like the one above in order to guide the Person Centered Information Gathering session. It is a very hands on process that involves sticky notes, markers, white boards, and plenty of discussion.

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The result is a one sheet summary of the person that can now be used as a reference when supporting that person.


Creating a Plan

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Admin inputs information from case documents into a third party software tool.

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Objectives and goals are written with little to no reference to the Person Centered Information previously gathered. 

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Frequency and scheduling are particularly challenging due to the unpredictable nature of IDD individuals.


Scheduling and Frequency

We faced some unique challenges along the way. One being around accurately portraying scheduling and frequency of support tasks. We learned that scheduling for IDD individuals can get tricky - there can be required tasks and optional tasks, reliably frequent tasks and ad hoc tasks. It couldn't be as simple as "Repeat every hour". Some examples of the scheduling and frequency challenge below:

Ask to use the restroom every 30 minutes between the hours of 8am and 9pm
Repeat every hour when not in bed and every 2 hours when in bed
Maintain visual eye contact every 15 minutes, unless in the bathroom or bedroom.

My solution. A Recurrence Builder.


With the Recurrence Builder, support plan creators would be able to accommodate a variety of unique scheduling needs. The above example shows how scheduling would work for "ask to use the restroom every 30 minutes between 8am and 9pm. We stress tested this solution across 40+ different scenarios.

Bringing Person Centered Information into the Support Building Process

Below I highlight core concepts and features of the Support Plan Builder and Manager prototype I presented to the stakeholders at Bios Corp. 


Filters: We grouped tasks into buckets that described key areas in an individuals life - Relationships & Socialization, Religion & Spirituality, Daily Living Skills, Employment, just to name a few. These were determined based on the conversations we had with Bios Corp leaders and employees.


Information Hierarchy: Each "Support Activity" (or Task) was tied to a related "Desired Outcome" which in turn was tied to a big picture "Goal". This would help ensure each task being done had an explicit reason and was derived from something that has been said to be important to or for the individual.

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Person Centered Information Tool: Once in the "Support Plan Manager",  you will be able to toggle through Person Centered Information and see exactly which tasks are being done for each Person Centered Information. 

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You can see the Person Centered Information filter being applied above. The support team has created a task for Jimmy to "Go to annual Christmas party with family" because it directly supports his desire to attend family functions and socialize virtually..

Ending Thoughts.

I'm very thankful to have gotten this experience. After my work on the Support Plan Builder, I went on to tackle the Admin, Training, and Finance experiences of this very extensive tool. Each with their own unique challenges and learnings. 

The Support Plan Builder was especially rewarding due to it's potential to drastically improve the  lives of both IDD individuals and the people that help them every day. 

Since this product is currently in production and has not been built yet, next steps would be implementation and further user testing to validate our solutions.