Person-centered care is a philosophical approach in which older people are placed at the center of their own care by care providers and health services.
This diverges from the traditional view of the therapist as an expert and moves towards a non-directive approach. The person-centered care approach is based on the belief that each individual has the potential to recognize what is best for them.
Person-centered care is promoted as best practice in dementia care. This involves listening, learning, and working in partnership with clients, to provide the support they need and to determine when and how the support is to be delivered.
One of the most important concepts of the person-centered approach is the relationship between staff and client. Fostering a collaborative partnership between staff, clients, and their families/advocates is paramount for enabling clients to make decisions and exercise their choices with adequate support.
It is not 'giving the client everything he wants'; rather, it is a negotiation between the two parties, where the client's point of view and wishes are heard and if possible realized.
Every person is unique and this uniqueness should be respected and valued. Personal history, experiences, strengths, and preferences should guide the care received.
Autonomy and Independence
Seniors should be allowed and encouraged to make their own choices and decisions about their care whenever possible. This includes respecting their right to take risks and make choices that others might not agree with.
Respect and Dignity
Seniors should be treated with respect and dignity at all times. Their personal beliefs, values, and cultural norms should be honored.
Participation and Engagement
Seniors should be actively involved in planning and making decisions about their own care. This includes the opportunity to participate in activities and engage with others in meaningful ways.
Relationships and Communication
Building positive relationships with seniors and their families is key. Good communication, which involves active listening and empathy, is crucial to understanding the individual's needs and preferences.
Collaboration and Teamwork
Care for seniors should be a collaborative effort involving the individual, their family, and the care team. Everyone's perspectives and input should be valued and considered.
Flexibility and Responsiveness
The care provided should be flexible and adaptable to meet the changing needs and preferences of the individual. This may require being creative and innovative in finding solutions that work for the individual.
Care should consider the whole person, including their physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual needs. This recognizes that all of these aspects are interconnected and important for overall well-being.
Seniors should be empowered to express their needs, preferences, and goals, and to be active participants in their care. This includes providing the necessary information and support to make informed decisions.
Quality of Life
The ultimate goal of person-centered care is to improve the quality of life for seniors. This means focusing not just on treating illness or managing symptoms, but also on promoting well-being, happiness, and fulfillment.
Lack of Training and Education
Staff may lack the necessary training to effectively implement person-centered care. This can include understanding the principles of person-centered care, as well as the specific skills needed to communicate effectively with elderly patients and understand their needs.
Staffing Levels and Time Constraints
Adequate staffing levels are necessary to provide person-centered care, as it requires more time and effort to understand and respond to each individual's needs. In settings where staff are stretched thin, they may resort to a more task-oriented approach rather than focusing on individual patient needs.
Structural and Organizational Barriers
Some systems are not set up to support person-centered care. For example, inflexible routines, policies, or practices can prevent staff from being able to adapt care to meet individual patient needs.
Effective person-centered care relies on good communication between the patient, family members, and healthcare providers. Language barriers, cognitive impairments, or other communication issues can make it more difficult to understand and respond to the individual's needs and preferences.
Lack of Resources
Resources like time, finances, and material resources are required to implement person-centered care. Limited resources can make it difficult for healthcare providers to meet each individual's needs.
Resistance to Change
As with any change in practice, there can be resistance from healthcare professionals who are accustomed to a more traditional approach to care.
Lack of Involvement from Family or Caregivers
Person-centered care often involves the patient's family or other caregivers, who may provide valuable insights into the patient's needs and preferences. If these individuals are not involved, it can make it more difficult to provide person-centered care.
While technology can be used to support person-centered care (for example, through electronic records that allow for better tracking of individual patient needs), it can also be a barrier if it is not user-friendly or if staff are not trained in its use.
Activity staff are a key resource in the implementation of person-centered care. Many deliver person-centered care instinctively; however more training, support and resources are needed to provide staff with orientation and guidelines.
Some of their responsibilities include:
The push towards person-centered care continues due to its potential to improve the quality of care and patient outcomes. The approach considers the whole person, taking into account their physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs. It values and respects the individual's personal beliefs, values, and cultural norms, and focuses on promoting their well-being, happiness, and fulfillment, rather than merely treating illnesses or managing symptoms.
Is a person-centered care approach followed where you work? What has been your experience with it? We'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic!