By 2050, in the U.S., there will be 85 million people over 65, and over 75% will require in-home support. Now more than ever, home care organizations need to implement strategies and practices that go beyond the basic requirements of care.
Enter person-centered care.
Also referred to as patient or people-centered care, it's a philosophy that recognizes that individuals have unique values, history, perspectives, and preferences. They have a right to dignity, respect, and to make decisions about how they will participate in their care.
This is not a new concept, but in the light of the pandemic and the challenges it brings with it, it needs to be revisited. When this fundamental idea is at the forefront of all care, everyone is supported in the best way possible.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and Alzheimer's Association recommend a model of person-centered care. The WHO cites the many lasting benefits of this approach but they caution that too often it isn't standard practice. Implementing it requires fundamental changes in our approach to healthcare.
The guiding principles of person-centered care
Person-centered care recognizes the background of the individual receiving care and their right to dignity and respect. These are the guiding principles, from the perspective of the individual:
- "I have the right to determine how best to meet my needs."
- "The care plan must include me, my family, and team in decision-making."
- "My care must be empowering, nurturing, and respectful."
- "My care should optimize my physical and psychological well-being."
- "Nothing about me, without me."
Although many care providers are doing a good job of taking care of people's basic needs, there is still a tremendous opportunity to improve the days of clients and families in a significant way, simply by learning what matters most to them and then doing things just-that-way. It's often these gestures that have the most meaningful, long-lasting impact.
So, let's break down the benefits of person-centered care for your clients, your care team, and your business.
Benefits for clients
Improved quality of life: Improved sleep patterns, increased self-esteem, a significant reduction in boredom and hopelessness, a reduction in levels of depression, and reduced levels of agitation in people living with dementia are all proven outcomes of person-centered care.
Reduced anxiety: Visits can start off well when a caregiver makes a connection with the person based on something they know is meaningful to them – a bird lover might be excited about the first signs of spring, or a proud grandfather might have some recent photos to show off.
Reduction in challenging behaviors: When a caregiver knows what may be agitating for that particular person (and how they tend to communicate it) – is it the curtains being closed, the type of juice being offered, or emotions following a particular family member visiting? They are better able to prevent it, leading to a more positive experience for all.
Form a bond of trust: When the preferences and perspectives of the person receiving care are known and honored, the yesses come more easily. Vital care routines (taking medicine, bathing, eating healthfully) are more likely to be met with cooperation than resistance. Why? Because trust has been earned.
Benefits for care teams
Increases job satisfaction: Team members who feel empowered to deliver personalized care experiences feel their work is important and valued, and are less likely to call in sick and more likely to recommend working for your business.
Continuity of care: Offering person-centered care is more likely to result in more permanent assignments with clients, and less time spent getting up to speed. This means more time to devote to producing better outcomes.
Higher engagement and empowerment: Staff are more likely to support policies in action when they feel valued and are invited to contribute to them.
Reduces on the job stress: Studies have shown that person-centered care can help reduce workers' stress, burnout, and job dissatisfaction - all factors in staff turnover rates.
Encourages a culture of teamwork: Because person-centered care approaches encourage collaboration across the care team, the feeling of disconnection is reduced and team members feel like they are working towards a more rewarding common goal.
Benefits for business
Extends the value of client relationships: Hiring a stranger to care for a loved one is a difficult decision to make. A model of person-centered care can ease the transition and reassure families that your team can be trusted. And over time, as the personal relationship deepens, so will the trust and loyalty you earn from clients and their families.
Makes recruiting easier: If you demonstrate in meaningful ways that you support person-centered care and give staff the right tools to deliver on this model, you will establish a reputation that will increase the likelihood that high-quality staff will choose to work for your organization.
Improves staff retention: When your organization demonstrates a commitment to empowering caregivers to deliver person-centered care, it is a commitment to making them more successful, and this commitment earns their loyalty.
Reduces customer acquisition costs: Exceptional care experiences lead to referrals. Plus, you'll see a boost in your net promoter score with recommendations by family members who are looking for ways to let others know about the amazing service they received.
The benefits of person-centered care - for the individual, the family, the care team, and the business - are significant, and when enabled by modern technology, garner measurable improvements in the level of care and organizational performance.
These benefits are what drive the strategy and product design of SparxConnect - a collaboration and engagement platform that gives your team an easy way to deliver exceptional person-centered care.
Let's make it our mission to never overlook those small acts of kindness. And let's become really, really good at person-centered care.
Download our eBook, Better Connections, Better Care, to learn more about the powerful difference that person-centered care can make, and how to put this theory into practice.
About the author: Mary Pat Hinton
Mary Pat is the CEO and Founder of Emmetros. In 2014, she left her corporate leadership role to pursue her heart-work by launching Emmetros. Driven by a commitment to honor her late grandmother, Mary Pat set out to create technology that prioritizes the independence and dignity of the person receiving care.