person-centred careCare workers routinely go above and beyond to deliver the best service for their clients.

Using their induction, training and more importantly, on the job experience, they learn approaches to deliver the safest and most effective care.

Part of this best practice involves person-centred care, a way of empowering clients to assume a more prominent role in their management.

What Is Person-Centred Care?

Patient centred care is a collaborative approach that puts the wishes of the client, their family and loved ones at the forefront of the care process.

It's a method of identifying what's most important to the care recipient and working together to decide how best to meet their expectations. 

In this way, care is not prescriptive and focusses on the individual, rather than merely the service.

Why Is This Type of Care Important?

In a care environment, it may be easy for clients to become passive due to greater reliance on those around them. Indeed, it can become a debilitating cycle. 

Help is needed in the face of illness or disability, causing feelings of psychological helplessness. This can impact on a client's physical and mental capabilities, causing them to need more assistance. 

Put yourself in a client's shoes. In their younger years, they were strong and independent, making their own life decisions. 

However, due to old age, illness or disability, they now rely on friends, family and the care services for help. This can be a very disempowering feeling, adversely affecting health and wellbeing.

Person-centred care may be an approach to help reverse this potentially negative spiral.

Whereas the delivery of a care activity might seem clear to the staff involved, it's not always obvious for clients who might be in new, unfamiliar territory.

While care workers are trained to administer care via the safest and most effective methods, each individual has varying perceptions about the way their care should be administered and the best approach for their situation.

Beliefs can be a powerful vehicle for rehabilitation, and aligning any intervention with a client's wishes will ensure better care outcomes.

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How Does Person-Centred Care Work?

As individuals, we all like to choose how we live our lives. We also enjoy personal growth and progress. For a client, this could mean becoming less reliant on mobility aids or increasing their walking distance after an illness or operation. 

Agreed in advance with the support of care staff, progress like this can result in positive feelings of mastery and self-determination.

Person-centred care taps into that natural human psychology, bringing out the best in clients and allowing them to flourish. On a scientific level, giving clients autonomy over their situation provides an important level of control. 

This feeling of control is vital for physical and mental health and was demonstrated in a landmark clinical study assessing how care home residents responded to looking after for a plant in their room. 

Half of the participants in the study were asked to care for the plant themselves, while the other half were told that a member of staff would water the plant. 

Much to the examiners' dismay, the results were profound. In the group tasked with caring for the plant, residents were shown to live longer, healthier lives in comparison to the group that was denied control.

Giving clients control of their own care can make them feel valued and purposeful, promoting self-esteem and motivation.

How to Use This Approach

Care should be an iterative process, flexible enough to cater to specific individuals and varying circumstances. 

Listening skills are vital to ensure this process works. Putting a client at ease and giving them the space to share their thoughts and feelings without judgement is key. 

Dialogue should be established with the client and their loved ones from the outset to understand their expectations and goals. 

Even if a care professional is confident about a particular approach, it's important to remain sensitive and introduce various options to be decided on together. 

Adopting a coaching mentality, ideas can be shared between client and carer, which can lead to new and novel approaches. 

Working together to highlight any potential issues allows the formulation of a joint care plan. As care is delivered, feedback is essential to ensure a client is happy and identify any areas for improvement. 

Person-Centred Care Checklist

- Begin by listening
- Encourage the client and their loved ones to reflect on what they want from their care
- Ask about their opinions, expectations and goals
- Take into account their personal philosophy, culture and beliefs
- Suggest ideas collaboratively 
- Formulate a care or action plan together
- Initiate the plan
- Ask for feedback from the client and their loved ones
- Monitor the progress and adapt your approach in line with changing needs

Remember, the main goal of person-centred care is to decrease reliance, promote independence and make clients more resilient to future obstacles. By employing some of these principles, your caring can be that much more effective.