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Adopting a person centered approach to nursing care is the ideal way to provide for your patient, as an individual with unique needs, values and preferences. Across the fields of healthcare, a focus on the whole person is becoming more of a common practice every day.

Hospitals, nursing homes, rehab centers and long term care facilities are incorporating person centered care with outstanding results. Caring for the patient as an individual, maintaining their dignity, and respecting their opinions toward their own care is, not surprisingly, beneficial to patient and nursing staff alike.

Most of the time, these patients are treated according to the specialty which correlates with their primary complaint. This is akin to treating the patient in bits and pieces, and not addressing the needs of the patient as a whole, unique person. One of the most important qualities of a person centered approach to caregiving is that you are able to integrate all necessary care, and bring together all healthcare professionals who are involved with the patient.

Create an Environment Focused on the Person

Creating a person centered healthcare environment isn’t only about addressing health concerns of the individual. To be a truly person centered healthcare facility, you must address the individual patient as a whole, and not merely treat the patient. In order to adopt a more person centered approach to nursing, it’s necessary to begin with a focus on the individual as a whole, and maintain that focus all along the journey. Here are some tips for integrating this type of nursing in your care facility:

Help The Patient Manage His of Her Own Care: When you’re caring for a patient, make sure you honor their input. They’re likely concerned for their welfare, they may be afraid, and there may be underlying physical and emotional conditions of which you aren’t aware. Empower the individual by involving your patient in her own care. The family members, therapists, clinicians, social workers, and administrative staff should be considered the support team, with the patient at the center of their care. Ask for the patients input and let him or her know that the values and preferences, goals and desires, are being recognized. Let your patient understand that above all else, you are his or her advocate.

Communicate and Get to Know the Individual Person: Take the time to communicate with your patient. Ask him or her about their interests and background. Ask what you can do to help make them feel supported. Are they feeling nervous or scared? What can you do to put their mind at ease? Greet your patient by name, use a calm and rational approach, even in the face of their own tantrums. Work on building trust with your patient.

Work with Your Patient: Sometimes the first response is to do certain tasks for your patient. After all, it makes it easier for everyone. However, when you show the person how to perform a task you empower the individual and give them a sense that they are maximizing their own abilities.

Focus on Can-Do: When you approach person centered care from a place of strength-looking at what the individual is capable of accomplishing, rather than disabilities and weaknesses, you help the person feel a sense of self-respect. Shine your light on their skills, their purpose, and accomplishments. Not only will this reinforce the patients trust in you, but his belief in himself has been buoyed.

Avoid Intervention: You may be sensing a pattern in the approach to person centered care. Empower the person to do for themselves. It’s second nature to want to help someone who appears to be struggling to get into bed, into a wheelchair, or into the restroom. But intervening is only going to create a dependency and reinforce the patient’s disability. If there is no immediate danger to self or others, allow the person to work it out.

Begin Immediately: Start out by being person centered, even prior to intake. Engage your patient and his or her family from the start. When you begin your patient’s journey focused on their needs in accordance with their expectations as an individual, it becomes that much more personal. And that’s what being person centered is all about. Your patient’s personal healthcare journey.

Person centered care takes the focus away from the illness, or condition, and puts it on the individual. Once trust is established, the drive toward centering on the patient as a whole becomes second-nature. Practice these tips to adopt a person centered approach in your nursing career.
Photo credit: nordique via Visualhunt / CC BY

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