Understanding and respecting peoples’ values, preferences and expressed needs is the foundation of person centred care.

Fast access to reliable health advice

Getting access to the right services at the right time is essential to receiving high quality care and treatment, and reduces the likelihood of people experiencing unmet needs. Access can be an issue at various points throughout people’s care journeys, including the ease or difficulty of scheduling appointments, the time spent waiting for referrals or admissions, and the availability of appropriate clinicians and advice. Speed of access matters in a crisis, too, where delays can lead to deteriorations in people’s conditions – and where a rapid response can be of vital importance.

Effective treatment delivered by trusted professionals

Positive therapeutic relationships between patients and staff are at the heart of person centred care. People should receive the most appropriate and effective care for their needs and be treated in a way that recognises and respects the outcomes that matter most to them. Interactions with care professionals should inspire a sense of confidence and trust.

Continuity of care and smooth transitions

Often, people’s care journeys will bring them into contact with a range of care providers and health and social care staff. Providing a sense of continuity across these is vital to ensuring that people have good overall experiences. Continuity of care is not just influenced by the relationships people have with staff, but by how well information is shared between staff and services and by how organisations interact with one another.

Involvement in decisions and respect for preferences

People have the right to be involved in their health and care. Involvement in care supports people to play an active role and to feel more confident in considering treatment options, associated benefits and risks, and in making informed decisions.

Care should be delivered in a way that is sensitive to the needs and preferences of the person. Focusing on the patient as an individual includes treating the person with respect and with sensitivity to their background, social and cultural values. Active listening and enquiry can be important to elicit people’s preferences, which should not be assumed.

Clear information, communication, and support for self-care

People using health and care services should receive reliable, high quality and accessible information at every stage of their journey.

How and when information is communicated can be as important as the message. Any assessment of information needs should consider not only content, but also how and when information is provided. By ensuring that the way information is communicated is tailored to the individual, it means that people are better placed to understand and make informed decisions about their care.

Support should be provided by staff that allows people to develop the knowledge, confidence and skills required for self-care.

Involvement of, and support for, family and carers

Providers and staff should acknowledge the importance of people’s families, carers, and friends in their overall health and wellbeing, and should welcome their involvement. This includes providing support to help family members and carers to assist patients during and after care. Equally, the emotional impact that caring responsibilities have on family members and carers should not be underestimated; the ability to access support and to speak to staff about worries is important.

Emotional support, empathy and respect

To deliver person centred care, a caring holistic approach that includes the provision of support and empathy is needed. For care to be compassionate it must be delivered with respect, dignity, sensitivity and with an understanding about the person.

Attention to physical and environmental needs

Physical care that comforts people is one of the most essential services that staff can provide. This ranges from pain management to assistance with activities and daily living needs. The surroundings and environment in which people are being cared for should also be considered, including the ability to provide care in privacy, in a clean and comfortable setting, and which allows appropriate accessibility for visits by family and carers.

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Principles of person centred care

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