Person-centred care explained

Care providers often refer to individualised or person-centred care in brochures and on their websites. At Country Court, we are often asked what this means. In this article, we answer common questions about person-centred care, explain what the term means and why it’s important. Terms such as ‘patient-centred’, ‘family-led’, ‘user-centred’ or ‘individualised’ all relate to the same approach.

What is person-centred care?

The underlying philosophy behind person-centred care is about doing things with people, rather than ‘to’ them. This philosophy puts the person being cared for at the heart of decisions and ultimately aims to create a way of living rather than a way of caring.

Taking this approach enables people to choose how they want their care and support to be provided. The care provider will work together with the individual to create a plan, ensuring that together they meet the individual’s unique needs. The aim is to reduce the risk of any negative, unfair or harmful treatment and neglect, as well as give them the best possible quality of life.

Person-centred care advocates taking a holistic approach, including collaboration with other agencies to ensure that care is coordinated. For residents in care homes, this could mean working alongside the hospital discharge team, local GP practice, occupational therapists and district nursing teams. Voluntary services such as befriending charities or specialist services for people with sight or hearing loss could be involved too, ensuring all aspects of the person’s well-being is looked after.

For residents living with dementia, the care team may work alongside specialist mental health teams or charities such as Dementia UK and Alzheimer’s Society. Local specialist charities offering specific activities such as gardening or golf for people living with dementia will be important too. Residents at Eccleshare Court Care Home in Lincoln take part in a local project with Golf in Society. This initiative is a dementia-friendly Golf Club aimed at improving the lives of people living with dementia, whether they have played the sport before or are complete beginners... The sessions are relaxed and individually tailored to the needs of each person, designed to provide a unique combination of physical, mental and social stimulation. In particular, for residents who have previously enjoyed golf, it’s a great opportunity to continue their hobby whilst receiving the unique support they require.

Why is person-centred care important?

The approach is important because it puts people and their values at the centre of care, taking into account their preferences, expressed needs and overall happiness. It establishes the involvement of family and friends in giving people emotional support, not just physical care. At Country Court, we believe that ‘life is for living’, recognising that both a person’s mental wellbeing is as important as their physical health.

A person-centred approach to care will focus on a person’s strengths (what they can do) and needs (what they need help doing), it is designed to empower people and will give them control over their own lives and ensure that others do not take this away from them.

Ensuring people are safe and comfortable is paramount. The approach encompasses positive risk-taking, risks are assessed and managed in a way that does not disadvantage the person. At Ferrars Hall Care Home in Huntingdon resident Jean, was able to fulfil a wish to ride a Dawes racing bike again. As a keen lifelong cyclist, she longed to get back in the saddle but had struggled to do so on her own. Her wish was fulfilled by staff who were able to provide a safe, effective and creative solution to her request. You can read more about Jean’s adventures in the saddle here.

Can someone who is living with dementia or has limited capacity to make their own decisions receive person-centred care?

Yes, everyone can receive person-centred care and it is particularly important for people living with dementia. A person-centred approach to dementia care sees the person with dementia as an individual, rather than focussing only on their illness, symptoms or behaviour. Taking this approach ensures people living with dementia can continue to take part in the things that they enjoy. This will help give the person a more suitable focus, in turn providing an effective way of preventing and managing behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia.

Person-centred care allows people to live well with dementia and is made possible by the health and care professionals who support them. Working closely with family and friends who know the person well and sharing knowledge and understanding is extremely valuable in making sure the care profile is right for them.

After moving to Rose Lodge Care Home in Market Deeping resident Jim had initially settled in well but after a few weeks started to become increasingly restless and frustrated. Staff noticed that he seemed to be looking for something whilst also being concerned by a red car in the car park. To help them understand Jim’s behaviour and find out what could be troubling him they spoke to his family. His wife was able to tell them that Jim used to drive a red car very similar to the one in the car park. Staff were then able to guess that perhaps Jim was looking for his car keys. Home Manager Natalie suggested getting Jim a set of keys very similar to his old ones. Keeping the set of keys in his pocket was enough to reassure Jim his car was safe and he soon became calmer and more settled.

How do care home staff create a person-centred care profile?

Creating a person-centred care profile starts before a resident moves into a care home. Their initial assessment and conversations with family members will give carers vital information that is not limited to purely their physical or mental care needs.

On moving into the care home, the wellbeing team will get to know each resident by completing an ‘About Me’ booklet. The input of family and friends is significant at this stage. They may help fill in any gaps, providing vital information about a person's life history, likes, dislikes, hobbies, interests and preferences. Knowing and understanding a person, how they like to communicate, what their interests are and even what their dreams and aspirations are, will help carers provide better and more meaningful support.

Visitors to Abbey Grange Care & Nursing Home in Sheffield are often surprised to see dusters, brooms and mops left out in the lounge area. Residents living with dementia can often be restless and walk around all day. This can be for a variety of reasons but in some cases can mean that they were used to walking around as part of their job, or just used to being busy at home. By providing cleaning equipment that they could use whenever they wish, the residents were given a purposeful opportunity to engage with. This gave them focus when they needed it and provided an environment similar to one they had previously been used to, which helped them feel more at home.

Front of house teams will often enlist residents to help them lay tables or clear cups away after a meal. Engaging in everyday household activities that people performed on a daily basis for years can be reassuring, provide routine and gives people a sense of purpose.

To help provide person-centred care, Country Court Care Homes use Nourish, an electronic care planning system, to capture as much information as possible about each resident. All the information recorded in a care profile is confidential and secure. Care plans will be reviewed daily by the carers as they go on and off shift. The care home Manager will review the care profile every month with the resident's named carer and a full formal review will take place at least annually. This constant re-evaluation of a person’s needs will ensure that their care profile remains relevant and is giving this person the most out of their time in a care home. A person’s wants and needs may change throughout their life, so it is important to regularly check this and update how we look after someone wherever necessary.

This article is just a small overview of our approach to care. To find out more about person-centred care in Country Court Care Homes contact the Home Manager or Customer Relations Manager at your nearest Country Court Care Home. Click here for a full list of our care homes.

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