Keeping care focused on the person and their needs

What it is

Related Resources

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) defines person-centred care as follows:

"It is care that is respectful of, and responsive to, the preferences, needs and values of the individual patient. It involves seeking out, and understanding what is important to the patient, fostering trust, establishing mutual respect and working together to share decisions and plan care."

Person-centred care:

  • involves care coordination and planning, along with shared decision-making and communication that acknowledges uniqueness and individuality
  • shows empathy and respect
  • identifies strengths and positive aspects
  • has a holistic focus which explores what the person values and considers important.

Person-centred care reflects the related concepts of dignity, worth and human rights.

To promote a sense of dignity, focus on the person not just the illness they have. Helping people retain dignity as they die includes:

  • good symptom control
  • psychological and spiritual support
  • care of the family.

Why it matters

Person-centred care acknowledges the person’s lived world and what they and others important to them value about their life. In this way, person-centred care aligns care with the values, needs and wishes of the person, and their family or carers.

Person-centred principles and approaches can reduce inequity for vulnerable or disadvantaged people including people living with a disability, people with mental illness, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Inclusive care respects the diverse needs of people. It considers diversity in culture, language, age, gender, where a person lives, their experiences and preferences. When a person’s diverse background brings together multiple barriers to care, this is referred to as ‘intersectionality’. This can make accessing care particularly difficult. You can find more on inclusive practice and intersectionality in the CareSearch Community Centre.

Person-centred care is a key element of many national guidance documents including

In practice

Some tips to providing person-centred care include: 

  • Always greet the person and introduce yourself. Let them know why you are there. Ask their permission to interact with them, provide care or undertake any procedure. Address them by their preferred name.
  • Always give the person your full and complete attention.
  • Respect a person’s need for privacy.
  • When speaking with the person try to be seated at the person’s eye level when possible.
  • Ask questions such as:
    • 'What should I know about you to help me take care of you the best I can?'
    • 'What do you find the most distressing at present?'
    • 'What is most important to you in relation to your care?'
    • 'Who else (or what else) will be affected by what’s happening with your health?'
    • 'Who would you like to be involved to help support you?'
    • 'What do you think about the time ahead?'

This information was drawn from the following resources:

  1. Australian College of Nursing (ACN). Person-centred care (82kb pdf). Canberra: ACN; 2019.
  2. Chochinov HM. Dignity and the essence of medicine: The A, B, C, and D of dignity conserving care. BMJ. 2007 Jul 28;335(7612):184-7. doi: 10.1136/bmj.39244.650926.47.
  3. Institute of Medicine. The delivery of person-centered, family-oriented end-of-life care [Internet]. In: Dying in America: Improving quality and honoring individual preferences near the end of life [Internet]. Washington DC: National Academies Press (US); 2015 [cited 2022 Aug 10].
  4. Österlind J, Henoch I. The 6S-model for person-centred palliative care: A theoretical framework. Nurs Philos. 2021;22(2):e12334.
  5. Slater L. Person-centredness: A concept analysis. Contemp Nurse. 2006 Oct;23(1):135-44. doi: 10.5172/conu.2006.23.1.135.

Page created 15 August 2022