Bridging the Gap: A health inequalities learning resource

Person Centred Caring

Section 6 main image

 It has been said that people do not care how much you know until they first know how much you care. This type of caring begins in the heart and not the mouth. The goal … is not to offer politically correct comments (words from the mouth) but [those] that reflect true caring. Josepha Campinha Bacote, 1999


Person-centredness and person-centred approaches are central to:

  • The NHS Scotland Healthcare Quality Strategy, 2010
  • The Patient Rights (Scotland) Act, 2011
  • The Patient Experience Programme

And the Scottish Government's aim of a mutual NHS in Scotland.

Person centred care has been described (JRF, 2006b) suggests "…a general consensus that 'person-centred' or 'quality' care is:

  • user focused
  • promotes independence and autonomy rather than control
  • involves users choosing from reliable, flexible services
  • tends to be offered by those working with a collaborative/team philosophy."

Olivia Giles (SG, 2007) develops this, identifying enabling, empowering and caring approaches, and confirming the benefit to patients of collaboration among healthcare workers and between departments, services and agencies. But Olivia also talks of feelings, for example of:

"… human comfort and dignity… [and being] cared for as a person, beyond 'the patient …' "

Pause for thought...

Read Olivia's account of her experience, and in particular her perspective on person-centred care in Delivering Care, Enabling Health (Scottish Executive, 2006, pages 3 & 4).

How does Olivia describe person-centred care? What did it mean for her?

From her account, which qualities, abilities, skills and knowledge does Olivia identify most strongly with among the staff she met?

What do you value most about a person-centred approach? What is most important to you?

Echoing Campinha-Bacote (1999), these essential qualities reflect values of caring and compassion that come from the heart and not the mouth. Cultivate and nurture them, value, practice and promote them.

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