5.3 Person-Centered Care

Person-centered care is a care approach that considers the whole person, not just their physical and medical needs. It also refers to a person’s autonomy to make decisions about their care, as well as participate in their own care. This approach improves health outcomes of individuals and their families as care is provided according to the resident’s preferences, choices, and habits held before they required assistance to care for themselves.[1]

The term “person” acknowledges a human being has rights, especially in relation to decisions and choices as previously discussed in Chapter 2. It also recognizes that a person is a human being who is made of several human dimensions. These dimensions include intellectual, environmental, spiritual, sociocultural, emotional, and physical, all of which operate together to form the whole person. In providing person-centered care, health care professionals consider all these elements while meeting health care needs.[2]

A nurse aide can focus on an individual’s personhood by spending time communicating with them and finding out what interests them, what is important to them, what concerns them, and what causes them to feel unsafe. It also includes asking each person how they would like to be addressed, as well as avoiding demeaning terms like “honey,” “sweetie,” or “sweetheart.” Promote their dignity by using age-appropriate words and avoiding words like “diaper,” “bib,” “potty,” or “feeders.” The vital element of person-centered care is effective communication between the health care provider, the client, and the client’s family members or significant others. Effective communication facilitates information sharing and trust.[3]

When a nursing assistant helps clients with their ADLs, person-centered care means learning clients’ personal preferences and routines. Examples of using the person-centered care approach are knowing the time the resident prefers to wake up and go to bed; their preference for showers, tubs, or bed baths; their preferred arrangement of their belongings; and their mobility issues. Cares are individualized based on these preferences. Respecting residents’ dignity and privacy is demonstrated by keeping them covered and warm when bathing, explaining procedures prior to doing them, and protecting their health information. It also means respecting personal beliefs, being aware of cultural differences, and offering choices and options when available.

It is important to remember that it is often difficult for clients to feel dependent on others to provide their personal care. Nursing assistants must demonstrate empathy with clients, especially with those who are experiencing the loss of their independence. Caregivers should allow residents to do as much as possible for themselves, under appropriate supervision, while providing assistance as needed. Allow them to make decisions about their care and encourage them to perform as much self-care as possible to promote their independence, self-esteem, and sense of control over their care. An added physical benefit of encouraging residents to perform self-care is it maintains their strength and mobility, thereby preventing a decline in physical function for as long as possible.

  1. This work is a derivative of Opening Eyes onto Inclusion and Diversity by Carter (Ed.) and is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0
  2. This work is a derivative of Opening Eyes onto Inclusion and Diversity by Carter (Ed.) and is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0
  3. This work is a derivative of Opening Eyes onto Inclusion and Diversity by Carter (Ed.) and is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0


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