Person-centred care is a practice that centres around the preferences and wishes of the person being cared for.
When there is a need to fulfil certain daily care duties, it’s easy to go on autopilot and get things done without input from the person receiving care.
Not knowing or understanding what care they would like to receive, and how, can lead to wasted care resources and fallouts between family members.
This article will cover the principles of a person-centred care approach that you can apply to give your loved one more say in their care.
Here’s a summary of what we’ll cover:
- Person-centred care puts the person receiving care at the centre of decision making about their condition, treatment and care.
- It aims to enable people needing care to live as independently as possible and make choices day to day.
- By providing an element of choice, a person-centred approach can have positive impacts on the individual’s care journey.
- Person-centred care puts personal needs at the forefront of the care they receive, rather than generic care.
What is person-centred care?
Person-centred care is about giving your loved one the autonomy to make decisions about their care for themselves.
It is a way of caring that doesn’t dictate how someone is cared for, but gives them the knowledge and confidence to have a say.
This supports people to achieve the type of care they want, where they want it, so they can live comfortably and confidently.
Working with all aspects of their care network, from family to doctors and carers, person-centred care is tailored to the needs of the individual.
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A dignified approach to care
Through a person-centred care approach, people are treated with dignity, compassion and respect throughout their illness.
Person-centred care goes beyond solely fulfilling the essential care tasks that need doing.
It can also cater to the tastes, wishes and interests of the person being cared for.
Seeing the person, aside from their illness or disability, helps them feel like themselves, despite their condition.
What are the benefits of person-centred care for the individual?
- Improves independence and confidence
- Supports their emotional, social, and practical care needs
- People feel comfortable and happy when they are listened to
- Verbal communication isn’t always necessary
- People receiving person-centred care stick to their care plans
- Listens to people when expressing their feelings and experiences about treatment options
Understanding person-centred care for carers
Being diagnosed with a condition and seeing it progress can be extremely difficult, both for the individual and their family.
In making sure they have all their medical needs catered for, it can be easy for families to start putting things in place without any discussion.
While it can be convenient to get care and appointments booked in, you may be sending your loved one in directions they don’t want to go.
This can cause rifts between family members who have different opinions about care – none of which focus on the feelings of the person in need of it.
More than just care
Person-centred care gives the individual receiving care the opportunity to have their health, care, social and emotional needs met.
Aside from specific medical care aspects, person-centred care gives that person the time and headspace away from their illness too.
It could be something as simple as sitting down for a cup of tea and a chat about something that doesn’t revolve around care.
Or making time for a hobby or activity that they love, but have been unable to do without assistance.
How can person-centred care make a difference to healthcare?
Person-centred care has many benefits for the individual which we looked at in the previous section.
But as well as this, adopting person-centred care can make a positive difference in the adult social care and health care system over all.
This is largely due to the fact that resources, such as medicines and services, are being given to, and used by people who, want to use them.
Rather than those who feel they haven’t been listened to and don’t agree with their treatment plans.
Wider systemic benefits of person-centred care
- Efficient use of resources as people receive the care and treatments they want to
- No wasted medicines
- Improves individuals’ understanding of their condition and when it’s necessary to seek help
What are the key principles of person-centred care?
A person-centred care plan is carefully tailored to individual needs and wishes, that the person receiving it should be encouraged to express.
By sharing their expectations and preferences for their care, the person receiving care is at the heart of any decision making.
This means that tasks should be done with their preferences in mind, rather than what is convenient for everyone else.
To take a person-centred approach when caring for elderly parents, carers should work with the following principles in mind.
Respecting the individual
In any care situation, respect for the individual is integral to maintaining good, healthy relationships.
Taking a respectful approach is exemplified in those responsible for care who listen to and carry out the person’s wishes.
Plus, by understanding their values and working to accommodate them, be it personal identity preferences to religious or cultural factors.
It is important to respect someone’s abilities too, and only help them with the things they need support with.
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Understanding their experiences and goals
A person-centred approach allows the person receiving care to express their past experiences with, and future wishes for, their care.
If they have had a negative experience, it is important to listen and understand their feelings and offer solutions to move forward.
When sharing wishes or goals for their care, appropriate actions should be taken to help them achieve this.
Treating people with dignity
Like respect, treating people with dignity is an essential part of caring for an elderly person.
This can include making them feel comfortable and validated in unfamiliar situations like during personal care.
As well as giving them the opportunity to express their preferences and have their opinion valued by those helping them access care.
Encouraging them to recognise their skills
One of the cornerstones of person-centred care is to enable the person receiving care in as many ways as possible.
Their illness or condition may have reduced their abilities or have them struggling to recognise their skills.
So one thing people providing care can do is to encourage awareness of skills through active use.
Having self-awareness of skills and abilities links back to the importance of not diminishing a person’s ability to act independently.
Encouraging the individual to get involved in tasks at home, or play an active role in their care, can provide essential positive reinforcement.
Even if some things are limited, making the person feel useful and valued can have a positive effect when creating a routine.
It also helps people know their skills which they can use to do tasks independently in a way they like to do.
Whatever setting a person is receiving care in, be it at home, with a GP or with care staff, a person-centred approach will always prioritise their needs.
This creates a coordinated care network that transitions smoothly, causing the least disruption possible to the individual’s care routine.
Updates to care that occur in these settings should always be communicated and coordinated.
This ensures that the person receiving care is following their tailored care plan and consents to any changes to their routine.
How can carers take a person-centred approach?
The Health and Social Care Act 2008 ensures that people using a care service have care or treatment that is personalised to their specific needs.
People providing care must work collaboratively to help them make informed decisions with understanding of their condition.
If someone lacks capacity to consent, their lasting power of attorney must be involved in the planning, management and review of their care.
Go here for more on what is lasting power of attorney.
Examples of person-centred care
- Providing options to choose from at mealtimes
- Listening to their wishes and goals
- Encouraging them to help with daily tasks at home or in the garden
- Creating a plan for care with the individual rather than doing it for them
- Buying tools and making adaptations at home to help them do tasks independently
- Helping them stay in the place they feel most comfortable
- Making decisions together about daily activities and routines such as deciding what to wear or do
Making adaptations for person centred care
To support your loved one and help them live independently, there are many care products that can help.
Using a pill dispenser box, a safety kettle for dementia or cutlery for arthritis can help when it comes to daily tasks that your loved one may want to do themselves.
You can also help them decide where they want to live and receive care, be it an assisted living facility care home, or care at home.
Person-centred care and dementia
When caring for a loved one with dementia, it can be easy to make executive decisions, especially if the person lacks capacity.
Yet even so, someone living with dementia should be involved in decision making on a day to day basis.
This is essential to avoid reducing their independence and confidence further, similar to outpacing.
You can find more info on this if you’re wondering what does outpacing mean in dementia?
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