What is Person Centred Support


A person-centred approach helps organisations provide accessible, responsive and flexible services that meet the diverse needs and preferences of people living in our community.

Many of these individuals want to remain independent for as long as possible and rely on the community care system to help them achieve this.

Australia is experiencing a demographic shift with a rapid increase in the number of older Australians.

The population aged 65 years and over is projected to increase from 3.2 million at 30 June 2012 to between 5.7 million and 5.8 million in 2031.

The increasing number of older Australians and those who have a chronic illness such as dementia will have a major impact on both the health and community care systems. The community care system is an important and growing element of aged care services in Australia that makes a tangible difference to the quality of life for many older people. Community expectations of support in the home are changing and require services to be accessible, responsive and flexible to meet diverse needs and preferences.

Person-centred approaches to support will help you to achieve this and more. They make a significant difference not only to the people you support and your staff but also to how your organisation operates and prospers.

What does person centred support mean?

Put simply, being person-centred is about focusing support on the needs of the person rather than the needs of the service.

Most people who need support these days aren’t happy just to sit back and let service staff do what they think is best. They have their own views on what’s best for them and their own priorities in life. So, as services, we have to be flexible to meet their needs – we have to make our system suit them, rather than the other way round.

This may require your organisation to make changes to current structures and practices that must be premised on:

  • Consumers and their carers being at the centre of planning by involving them in decision-making about service development and delivery

  • Treating staff in a person-centred way so they can, in turn, deliver person-centred care.

Person-centred care is a philosophical approach to service development and service delivery that sees services provided in a way that is respectful of, and responsive to, the preferences, needs and values of people and those who care for them.

There are numerous models and guiding theories of person-centred care described in published and unpublished literature around the world. Some models have been developed to meet the needs of specific care environments, including the residential care setting and hospital environment. Others have been developed to describe person-centred care provided by different professional groups, for example, nursing and allied health. The key principles of person-centred care are:

  • Valuing people Treating people with dignity and respect by being aware of and supporting personal perspectives, values, beliefs and preferences. Listening to each other and working in partnership to design and deliver services.

  • Autonomy The provision of choice and subsequent respect for choices made. Balancing rights, risks and responsibilities. Optimising a person’s control through the sharing of power and decision-making. Maximising independence by building on individual strengths, interest and abilities

  • Life experience Supporting the sense of self by understanding the importance of a person’s past, their present-day experience, and their hopes for the future.

  • Understanding relationships Collaborative relationships between the service provider and service user and their carers and between staffing levels. Social connection through the local community through opportunities to engage in meaningful activities.

  • Environment Organisational values underpinned by person-centred principles. Responsive support that is responsive to individual needs. A planned, organisation-wide effort to individual and organisational learning.

Being person-centred means that we always have the person’s safety, comfort and well-being uppermost in our mind. Ensuring people are comfortable calls for us to be aware of the things that can cause discomfort – feeling cold or hot, having a thirst or being hungry, being in pain or having an itch, needing to go to the toilet or change a sitting position, for instance – and taking steps to relieve them. Having people’s well-being uppermost means that nothing we do – or don’t do – causes the person any physical, emotional or social harm.

And being person-centred means being aware of a person’s emotional and spiritual well-being. Spiritual care is not just about religious beliefs and practices: it also reflects a person’s values, relationships and need for self-expression. There are benefits to adopting a person centred approach and these can be summarised as follows:

  • Allows consumers and their carers to have greater control over their own lives by allowing them to make choices about the types of care and services they access and how and when they are delivered

  • Support staff to value and seek to know the people they care for, to understand their experience and to support them to retain as much independence and dignity as possible

  • Result in happier staff who want to stay in your organisation

  • Mean that organisations are well placed to provide culturally appropriate responses

  • Enhance an organisation’s reputation and standing

  • Provide the foundation for delivering Consumer Directed Care.

Quality Health Care has long known the benefits of working in a person centred way. If you would like to find out more about us and how we work, please click the following link; Why Quality

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