The principles of person-centred care

Person-centred care is defined as valuing a patient as a person with unique needs. PCC is understanding their experience and working with them to ensure their care plan is reflective of these individual needs. This includes establishing coordinated care and proper communication. In PCC, patients are encouraged to be involved in their own care and be in partnership with their healthcare team. It is confirming that the “physical, mental, and social well-being” of the patient are encompassed in the health care plan [1].

Most healthcare institutions have policies outlining PCC. Although the majority of the academic discussions surrounding person-centered care reference physicians and nurses, it is important to note that ALL healthcare workers share in the patient experience, regardless of how casual their involvement.

PCC is considered key to a quality health care system. However, without a clear universal definition, it is necessary to understand its key guiding principles: Respect and Dignity, Participation, Collaboration and Information Sharing [2]. Interpreting these principles and putting them into practice are paramount in achieving a successful PCC culture.

Respect & dignity
Person-centred care (PCC) is principled in treating the patient with respect and dignity. It is treating the patient as an individual, exploring their values and beliefs. This includes understanding that their cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds affect their decision-making process, choices, beliefs, and their ability to understand the knowledge you are presenting [3].

As a healthcare provider practicing PCC, you will need the flexibility to meet the person needs cognitively, mentally, and emotionally, and provide compassionate and empathetic care by active listening and asking questions. By including and understanding the patient’s diversity, “including race, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, religion, age and socio-economic status”, individualized care plans can be created that reflect the patient’s perspective, values, and preferences [4]. Offering respect and dignity reduces judgment and acknowledges that the patient is the expert in their own lives.

By meeting the patient where they are at, and building on a respectful relationship, the patient will be more encouraged to participate in their care plan and shared decision making. This increased involvement by the patient and the family members is related to improved health outcomes and increased quality of life [5]. Families and friends who are part of the support team of the patient are encouraged to participate in the discussions and treatment plan as well. The patient is encouraged to advise their healthcare team of what is working and what is not, therefore fully participating in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of their treatment plan.

Patient and family engaged care provides better engagement, better decisions, better processes, and better experiences which equate to better culture, better health (reduced hospitalization), and lower costs [6].

For person-centred care (PCC) to be truly effective, multi-sector collaboration is imperative. Access to a patient care plan should be available and utilized across all sectors of the healthcare system. This cross-sector collaboration with multiple healthcare teams and the patient is proven to improve patient health and promote a better healthcare experience [7].  Collaborating with the patient and interdisciplinary teams can reduce the quantity of duplicate testing, required appointments, reduce the time for accessing treatments and improve the patients all around care [8]. This can also reduce the stress on the healthcare providers and the healthcare system as a whole.
Information sharing
Person-centred care (PCC) promotes clear communication and sharing of information between healthcare providers and the patient at a level of understanding that is considerate of the patient’s cognitive, emotional, and developmental abilities. Understanding the patient’s cultural, ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic diversities is also key to assisting the patient in understanding the process of rehabilitation and healing [9].  Active listening and honest communication will help identify goals which match the needs and wants of the patient. As it is encouraged for the patient and families to actively engage in the patient’s care and the decision-making process, establishing honest and accurate communication strategies is essential. When individuals are provided with the appropriate education and information they require to make decisions, they are better able to direct their care and treatment plan.

PCC provides improved health outcomes as patients feel involved and accountable for their treatment and care plan. It eases the pressure on the healthcare system when patients are provided with the services they require. Through interdisciplinary and cross-sector communication, navigating the health care system becomes less complicated, as testing and appointments are minimized.

PCC is associated with less discomfort, less concern, and better mental health, as well as fewer diagnostics and referrals [10] It also contributes to reduced wait times for accessible care, and minimizes unscheduled healthcare visits.

For information on PCC, please review your local, provincial, or federal health authority for additional information and policies.

Additional resources