Advocacy, Resources, Toward better care

10 practical actions that foster real person- and relationship-centered care

A lot of lip service is given to person-centered care, and often not a lot of it is actually delivered. And some people say we should go beyond the concept of person-centered, and instead focus on relationships.

Whatever words you choose to use, here are some key actions that will help develop care environments in which being counts more than doing:

  1. Know each person, their individual likes and dislikes, as well as their wants and needs
  2. Recognize that each person can and does make a difference, no matter their physical, psychological or emotional state
  3. Respond to spirit, as well as to mind and body
  4. Understand that risk and risk taking are normal parts of life. Risk can never be completely eliminated. Psychological safety is as important, perhaps more so, than physical safety.
  5. Put people before tasks
  6. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
  7. Promote the growth and development of all
  8. Shape and use the potential of the environment in all its aspects: physical, organizational, psycho/social/spiritual
  9. Practice self-examination, searching for new creativity and opportunities for doing better, and interacting more effectively with those around you.
  10. Recognize that culture change and transformation are not destinations but a journey, always a work in progress.

I drew these from a great article by Marguerite McLaughlin, Senior Director of Quality Improvement at American Health Care Association; the article is entitled Avoiding Institutionalizing Person Centered Care. McLaughlin gives several real-life examples of what is and what is not person-centered care, and makes excellent points such as this one:

“So often, care plans read “redirect” as some generalized marching order — a vague notion to get people with Alzheimer’s disease distracted when instead, it should offer ideas that soothe and comfort, prevention strategies that keep folks from becoming bored or lonely. Oh, and there is so much more that can be said and done within this context!”


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