10 Ways to Improve Person-Centered Care

Updated May 15, 2024
Key Takeaways

The person-centered care delivery model has been gaining traction in long-term care. Establishing a person-centered care climate is only the first step, however. Providers who wish to continually improve their person-centered care can turn to several strategies, including learning more about community access needs, educating clients and families about person-centered care, and taking a person-centered approach to recruiting, hiring, and evaluating caregivers.

No doubt you are hearing more and more about person-centered care these days. At CareScout, we believe it is the future of long-term care. Delivered at full strength — effective and empowering for care seekers and their families, affirming and rewarding for caregiver staff — person-centered care provides long-term care the way it was meant to be.

More individualized than its close relation, patient-centered care, person-centered care is care that honors an individual’s goals, preferences, and values. It invites care recipients and their families to become full partners in creating a care plan and participating in all care decisions. Although elements of person-centered care have been around a long time, only in recent years has it drawn attention as a proven model for improving quality of care while reducing costs. (And it is about time, too!)

Making person-centered care even better

The thing about quality, of course, is that it can always be improved. Person-centered care is no exception. If your organization is building a person-centered care climate, here are some strategies to get to full strength and make something great even greater:

1. Expand community access

Reach out to local cultural and community organizations to learn how best to communicate with their constituents. Ask whether they are experiencing any obstacles to learning about what you offer or accessing long-term care from your organization. Aim for a 5th grade reading level in written materials,  and develop additional educational and promotional materials in languages other than English.

2. Promote shared decision-making

Keep clients and families fully engaged so they can effectively take part in decision-making for their care. Thought-starters: Offer health information. Encourage use of a caregiving app or other convenient ways to stay connected to staff. Make sure individual preferences, values, and beliefs are reflected in care plans.

3. Educate clearly

Make any health education materials your organization provides appropriate to your clients’ levels of health literacy. The better clients understand basic health information, the more effectively they can participate in the decisions affecting their care.

4. Use person-centered language

Words matter. The language staff use with each other can affect and reflect how they view and interact with clients. In meetings or conversations, encourage staff to speak of “living with” vs. “suffering from,” “aging journey” vs. “life stage,” “dementia” vs. “senility,” and “care experience” vs. “care delivery.” Strive to always use language that respects the client—even if they are not present.

5. Make person-centered care part of your hiring pitch

Higher staffing levels can support higher quality care but recruiting long-term care staff can be tough. Boost your hiring efforts by positioning your person-centered care climate as a centerpiece of your organization. Link it to your values. Most people want the work they do every day to have meaning,1 and person-centered care can deliver.

6. Include person-centered care metrics in job descriptions

Help new hires and other staff understand what it means to have a person-centered care climate and how to succeed in their roles. Examples: “Makes care recipients feel welcome.” “Knows and honors clients’ choices and routines.” “Responds in a timely manner to meet the needs of all care recipients.”

7. Make sure staff know what’s in it for them

Person-centered care can be a morale booster and has great potential for increasing staff retention. Remind staff that with person-centered care they get to provide care the way it was meant to be, see direct results of their hard work through happier clients, and make a real difference in the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our healthcare system.

8. Offer continued person-centered care training

Building a person-centered care climate requires ongoing support, especially given high turnover in the industry. For example, CareScout offers free CE-credit courses aligned with person-centered care to providers in the CareScout Quality Network. Courses are available through our CareScout Quality Care Academy and include modules for administrators, care professionals, and clinicians.

9. Dig behind the data

To approach person-centered care excellence, look beyond star rating metrics and safety measures. Ask staff and clients where there is room for improvement in all aspects of care. CareScout does this for providers seeking to join the CareScout Quality Network by surveying care recipients and provider staff directly to gain objective insight from those most impacted by the care experience.

10. Celebrate even small wins

In person-centered care, little things actually mean a lot. A client who loves having her favorite meals prepared, another who appreciates the extra time it takes to dress him in a “proper” button-down shirt every day, finding the right rollator to enable a city dweller to walk down to her corner store to do her own shopping … honoring people’s preferences adds meaning to their lives. Lift those moments up.  

If your organization already offers person-centered care — thank you. You are part of a movement that is taking long-term care in a bold new direction. Try one or more of these strategies to lead your organization to the next level. You, your staff, and your clients only stand to gain. 

Get Centered

Find out how CareScout can help you improve your person-centered care climate. Join Our Network

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Every provider in the CareScout Quality Network has met rigorous quality standards and is committed to person-centered care. Search our network to find a provider who meets your needs.

Written by

Brian Kelley

Brian Kelley, PT, DPT, MHA

Brian Kelley, PT, DPT, MHA has been both a clinician and operator in the Older Adult Post-Acute space for the past 20 years. His focus is and always has been on making sure care consumers remain the focus of care delivery and that they receive the highest quality services possible.

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