PLAN (Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network)
Tim Ames, Executive Director of PLAN & PLAN Institute
Ted Kuntz, Chairman of PLAN
Financial and physical security, employment, social inclusion, housing, and mental and physical health are of concern to all of us. For some of us, especially those with a disability, these goals are difficult to achieve without support networks. PLAN provides information, consultation, and professional facilitation in building networks to support these individuals and their families.
PLAN was created twenty years ago by parents who wished to develop a formal agreement which would define the roles and responsibilities of family and friends supporting an individual with a disability. The intention was that the “plan” would remain in place for the individual’s lifetime. Together, the facilitator, the supported individual, and his or her family, friends, and support workers work to answer such questions as, “Who will take an interest in our family member, particularly after we are gone? Who will love them? Whom will they love? Who will protect and keep them safe? Who will appreciate and nurture their gifts?”
The team strives to construct “a good life” for the person, which includes having a home, financial security, and relationships, especially friends. They believe that it takes as few as 6-8 people in one’s life to be “in relationship”, and that safety follows from relationships. As well, PLAN’s criteria includes choice for the supported individual, in decisions that affect their life; for example in how or who is to care for them. This may involve implementing a Representation Agreement. Finally, a “good life” would include opportunities for the individual to contribute to their own care, to their families, and to the world at large, in ways that they are able.
PLAN proposes that implementing the above be done in three phases – Exploration, Growth, and Maintenance.
The Exploration phase is for the individual, family and facilitator to explore the person’s interests, passions, and possibilities for meeting others. Through the use of relationship circles and social mapping, a set of objectives is developed, a time line of activities established, and a list of potential network members compiled.
The Growth phase is for all leads and possibilities to be followed up, contracts made, and invitations extended to potential network members. The objectives from the Exploration phase are developed into practical strategies to be implemented.
The Maintenance phase is the “fine tuning” that occurs after relationships have been formed and networks have been established, and settle in for the long term. It is important that this system be dynamic and flexible to respond to change – changes in the interests or abilities of the supported individual and changes in the support network.
What is the relevance of PLAN to Square Peg Society?
Who does not want a “good life” for their supported individual? And our young adults are very able to participate in the building of their personal networks. It was important to the founders of PLAN that their model be customized to each support network – so that each PLAN would be independent of other agencies and unique to the supported individual and his team. This takes time and resources. Consequently, for each support network with PLAN, there is an initial cost, and monthly fees.
Any of our member families could certainly elect to employ PLAN. Perhaps there are also issues where we could collaborate with PLAN – to advocate for government policy changes, for example, – in eligibility for the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP), and use of the funding, in eligibility for other funding, and in an expanded definition of disability. PLAN was instrumental in the development, by government and financial institutions, of the RDSP. PLAN also indicated to us that they would be willing to consult with us on establishing support networks.
For more information about PLAN, contact: http://institute.plan.ca