Department of Health

Person-centred practice is a natural part of our day-to-day work

We can make person-centred practice a part of our work through our everyday interactions with patients and their family and carers, for example:

  • smile and introduce ourselves
  • wear a name tag that people can see and read
  • explain your role to the patient
  • ask the patient how they are feeling today - both physically and emotionally
  • see the patient as a person who has a life outside hospital
  • treat the patient as an equal partner
  • listen to the patient and respect the knowledge they bring about their own health
  • listen to their family and carers
  • acknowledge that being in hospital can be a frightening and uncertain time for patients and their families
  • acknowledge that feeling lonely or isolated in hospital can be a common experience
  • make sure the patient has all the information they need to make informed choices.

‘ find that the families and the carers that come along to us, with the patients, have a wealth of knowledge. When the patients can’t tell us what they need, their carers often can.
- Dora, clinical resource nurse1

Person-centred practice must be embedded at an organisational level

Person-centred practice should be embedded in our organisations.2 To achieve this, ‘senior leaders need to unite them around a common sense of common purpose’.3

Embedding person-centred practice

The World Health Organization’s framework for creating agefriendly communities urges organisations like hospitals to consult with ‘older people on ways to serve them better’ as it ‘contributes to empowering older people and fostering age-friendly respect and social inclusion’.3

Ask how your organisation is embedding person-centred care in day-to-day practice:

  • Are there policies and procedures for involving patients and carers in their own care?
  • Is training provided to staff on person-centred care?
  • Do leaders explain and promote the importance of person-centred practice?
  • Do we seek and use patients’ and carers’ feedback to improve our practice?
  • Do we engage patients in staff education programs?
  • Do we have systems to collect and report patient experience data?
  • Are person-centred principles part of core business and embedded in organisational and employment documentation and performance review processes?
  • Do we have a culture of reflective practice, continuous improvement and lifelong learning?

Achieving person-centred practice

Many Victorian health services are surveying their patients and families to improve their understanding of their patient’s needs and adapt their service to these needs.

As part of the Victorian Department of Health’s Improving care for older people initiative, health services across Victoria undertook to implement person-centred practice in settings involving older people. Some examples include:

  • Alfred Health has a Patients Come First plan and has developed an organisation-wide patient experience survey, which has been translated into five different languages. In collaboration with the Department of Health, Alfred Health also produced a DVD resource called Best Care for older people: the patient experience
  • Eastern Health implemented performance monitoring strategies including mystery shopper observations and patient interview, leadership walk-rounds, patient experience trackers which capture real-time information, and monthly patient experience surveys.
  • Melbourne Health conducted a ‘Board to Bedside Consultation’ in 2012, which surveyed more than 300 staff and consumers about what matters to them when receiving healthcare. It also developed an audiovisual resource, Lola’s Story, which emphasises patient experience and has been used to open executive/board meetings. Melbourne Health also runs tailored sessions on person-centred practice.
  • Peninsula Health has embedded person-centred practice principles in employment position descriptions; they are also a formal component of orientation.
  • Western District Health Service has developed and implemented a Partnering with Consumers policy, and principles of person-centred care are included in orientation for new staff. Fifty staff have attended education sessions on person-centred care, and older people are represented on the Consumer Advisory Committee.
  • Barwon Health has introduced electronic bedside assessments on tablets to increase the time nursing staff spend with their patients and their families when gathering information and developing care plans and facilitate shared decision making.

1. Best care for older people in hospital: the patient experience.

2. Goodrich and Cornwell 2008, Seeing the person in the patient: the point of care review paper. The King's Fund, London.

3. World Health Organization, Global age-friendly cities: a guide, 2007.

Reviewed 05 October 2015


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