Care Guides > Person-Centred Care Explained - Why Is It Important?

Person-Centred Care Explained - Why Is It Important?

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Person-centred care is about making sure the people who use care services such as care homes are at the centre of everything important. This is a way of doing things so people and their families are seen as experts, working alongside health professionals to get the best possible outcome.

Person-centred care isn’t just about providing the necessary healthcare. It also involves considering people’s desires, interests, individual circumstances and lifestyles. This allows them to be viewed as individuals and helps carers to take into account people’s preferences and expressed needs.

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In this article:

  1. What is person-centred care?
  2. Why is it important?
  3. The four principles of person-centred care
  4. Examples of delivering person-centred care approaches
  5. The role of UK care regulators in person-centred care

What Is Person-Centred Care?

Person-centred care takes into account what really matters to somebody receiving care, and makes sure they’re fully involved in all decisions.

The professional knowledge of carers and medical staff is combined with the personal knowledge of the person receiving care - including their values, feelings, lifestyle and preferences.

Through this mix, a care plan is tailored to the individual and is delivered in a way that the individual feels completely comfortable with.

There are many different aspects to person-centred care, including:

  • Getting to know the resident as a person and recognising their individuality
  • Recognising the individual as an expert in their own health and care
  • Sharing responsibility and decision-making with the individual in care
  • Including families in decision-making where possible
  • Making sure services are accessible and easy to understand
  • Looking at people’s experience of care as a whole to promote continuity, dignity and respect (particularly where long-term conditions are concerned)
  • Making sure staff are supportive, excellent communicators and willing to put people at the centre of their care

Why Is It Important?

Person-centred care (sometimes referred to as patient-centred care) is important because it improves the independence of people receiving care. Somebody who requires extra support won’t want to feel like a burden on those around them. Instead, most people would prefer to be encouraged to take part in decisions surrounding their care and be given the confidence to live more independently.

Person-centred care is important as it focuses on all parts of an individual. Not just treatment, but also their emotional wellbeing. This helps people maintain a high quality of life and feel comfortable while receiving care. There will also be more trust between people receiving care and those providing it.

The benefits

Person-centred care has benefits for both the individual and the care professionals themselves.

To start, here are some benefits for the individual receiving care:

  • They’ll feel more motivated when following care plans or treatment plans tailored to their specific needs, including any dementia support or convalescent care
  • It’ll help them work towards goals and other milestones
  • Not only will medical needs be met, but also emotional, personal and social needs
  • Independence in care is encouraged. Residents are also given more responsibility which can provide further motivation
  • Residents will feel comfortable and positive about the service they’re receiving
  • Improved quality of care can speed up recovery

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And here are some benefits for those delivering the care services:

  • When treatment is focused on the needs of the resident, a more positive and happy environment is created
  • Residents are more likely to be invested in their care plans, care packages, medication and treatment options when their needs are being properly addressed
  • Being involved in the decision-making process can increase the long-term interest of a resident in their health. This is especially important if they return home and have more responsibility for their own health

The Four Principles of Person-Centred Care

To help people better understand person-centred care, The Health Foundation laid out four principles that should be kept in mind whenever support is being provided to people, such as in a residential care home.

We’ve gone over each of these four principles below:

1. Treating people with dignity, respect and compassion

Arguably the most important aspect of person-centred care is treating people in a respectful way, listening to what they have to say and taking on board their input (as well as that of their family). Dignity in care also involves being compassionate and understanding.

Older people can often lose their independence when they go into a care service, which is why it’s important to bear in mind everyone has their own thoughts and feelings. Feeling more independent often leads to positive health and wellbeing outcomes. Showing respect for elders will go a long way in care.

2. Providing coordinated care and support

Care works best when all services are aligned with each other, including supportive services and health workers. If not, a care service can be disjointed and not properly focused on the individual’s personal care needs.

Everyone involved in providing care should clearly communicate with each other while maintaining up-to-date plans and medical information.

3. Offering personalised care and support

The key to personalised care is understanding what works for one individual might not work for another. Offering person-centred care allows somebody to maintain some of their freedom while being able to fulfil any wants and needs. A less personalised approach may make it more difficult for a resident to feel empowered in being able to manage their own health.

4. Enabling people to live independent and fulfilling lives

People in care need to be involved in decision-making, especially for important decisions. Places like care homes should help people best support themselves and understand how to do so.

Making every decision on behalf of somebody may make them feel like they have no say. That’s why having regular discussions with an individual in care, their family and friends can be really helpful.

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Examples of Delivering Person-Centred Care Approaches

There are plenty of ways in which this approach can be intertwined with everyday life. Exactly what methods are used depends on the individual in care, what care they’re receiving and other factors, but here are some examples to give you a better idea:

  • Making their own choices at mealtime as to what food they’d like
  • Deciding with the individual what they’re going to wear that day
  • Changing bedtimes and wake-up times, depending on when the individual feels most productive
  • Providing tools so the individual can perform everyday tasks by themselves. These tools could be shower seats or an extending device that aids with putting shoes on

Overall, not making decisions for the individual being cared for, but rather making informed decisions with them about treatment choices.

The Role of UK Care Regulators in Person-Centred Care

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) - England’s regulator of health and social care - is also key to making sure person-centred care is provided.

They state that: “Providers must make sure that they take into account people's capacity and ability to consent, and that either they, or a person lawfully acting on their behalf, must be involved in the care planning, management and review of their care and treatment.”

The CQC can take regulatory action if they feel this isn’t being met, which often impacts a provider’s overall rating (such as a care home’s rating dropping from ‘Good’ to ‘Requires Improvement’).

Similarly, the Care Inspectorate in Scotland say that: “Keeping the person at the heart of their care during this time is even more important than ever.”

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do you tell if care is person-centred?

You can tell if care is person-centred when it ticks all the necessary boxes. Here, people are treated with dignity and respect, are offered personalised support and should be given the necessary tools to live an independent and fulfilling life.

What changes are possible through person-centred care?

Through person-centred care, somebody’s emotional, social and practical needs can all be met. This allows them to have the best quality of life possible while feeling comfortable within a care setting.

How do nurses provide person-centred care?

A person-centred approach to nursing focuses on a resident's needs, wants, desires and goals. These become central to the caring and nursing process, such as that within a nursing home. Often, this means putting the person’s needs above those identified as priorities by health care professionals. Getting to know the resident and what makes them tick is key to person-centred nursing care.

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