Ricky Broussard spent 29 years living in an intermediate care facility for individuals with an intellectual or developmental disability. Today, because of person-centered planning, he lives in his own apartment and gets 60 hours of care a week from one full-time and one part-time staff member.

Imagine what it would be like if every decision made about your life were made by someone else: when to get up in the morning, when to go to bed at night, what to eat, how to spend money.

This describes 29 years of Ricky Broussard’s life. From the time he was 10 until the day in 2007 when he was “emancipated,” he lived in an intermediate care facility for individuals with an intellectual or developmental disability.

Today, Broussard is in control. He lives in his own apartment and gets 60 hours of care a week from one full-time and one part-time staff member. He has a job with Imagine Enterprises, a nonprofit organization, he owns his own van and travels the state presenting trainings and advocating for others.

What turned Broussard’s life around? Person-centered planning.

Person-Centered Planning is an option for people in Medicaid waiver programs that allows them to decide how their services are provided. It focuses on the recipient and his or her abilities and desires. And Broussard is a real-life example of how person-centered planning can make an enormous change for the better in the life of someone with a disability.

Through person-centered planning and Imagine Enterprises, Broussard is now in charge of his life and the direct support staff who touch his body every day. Imagine works with people like Broussard who are on Home and Community-based Services and other Medicaid waiver programs to help them be as independent as possible.

With the help of his circle of support, including the Texas Health and Human Services case managers, Broussard was able to not only move into his own place, but also buy a van. The van needed a wheel chair lift and lock mechanism to allow him to safely travel as part of his job.

Getting the van involved Consumer Directed Services; it also involved the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services because Broussard needed vocational rehabilitation. DARS helped support the purchase of the van, which cost $27,000 to modify.

Before his “emancipation” Broussard had people caring for him, but he had few integrated, community options and little freedom to make his own decisions. Living in a group setting can be tough.

“You have no control over the decision to get out of bed, how you’ll spend your money or who touches your body,” said Norine Gill, Imagine executive director. “Someone else controls all of those decisions, and you can only hope they might possibly listen to you.”

Broussard agrees.

“When you think of a person who has been institutionalized as long as he was, for Ricky to own his own van is pretty cool,” Gill said. “This can only happen when you have a person-centered approach.”

“My life is infinitely better." Broussard said. "I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”