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Person-Centered Care: What It Means to You and Your Family

Pioneer Network Executive Director Bonnie Kantor and E. Foy White-Chu, MD, a Boston-based physician and culture change advocate, talk about person-centered care and its role in the life and care of your older family members/friends.

You may have heard about the culture change movement in long-term care. This is a shift in philosophy and practice that is all about meaningful relationships and service. Staff, caregivers, and practitioners really know their long-term care residents/patients and make sure they have choices about their daily care. Person-centered care is one term used to describe this type of care.

Person-centered care is based on ongoing relationship building and reflects the person's needs, values, and choices. Everyone—including family and friends—works as a team to provide comfort, care, support, and joy for the resident/patient. Everyone shares a focus on the person's best interests and personal goals. All residents/patients can benefit from person-centered care, even if they have dementia such as Alzheimer's.

Understanding person-centered care will help you decide how you can help your family member/friend. It will make sure that everyone else involved in your family member/friend's care knows what he/she wants, likes, and believes, allowing for respect of their choices.

Questions to Ask Your Physician:

How does this setting/community embrace and practice person-centered care?

What can I do to help you and other team members make sure that my family member/friend gets person-centered care that meets his/her needs and wishes?

How can I help caregiving staff get to know my family member/friend?

What will happen if my family member/friend wants something that is not safe or good for him/her? How will you balance risk and choice?

How can I be involved in care?

What You Can Do:

Make sure staff knows about your family member/friend's hobbies, history/accomplishments, and favorite things—such as preferred foods, pets, favorite music, and job history.

Make sure staff knows about your family member/friend's habits and pet peeves, such as sleeping habits, when he/she likes to get up in the morning, when/how he/she likes to bathe, and when he/she likes to eat meals.

Be part of care. Bring food, celebrate holidays and special events together, make arrangements for childern and family pets to visit, and so on.

Bring pictures and other items to remind staff of your family member/friend's personality, career, hobbies, and history.

For more information:

Person-Centered Activities Empower Demented Residents:

Pioneer Network:

Long-Term Care and Culture Change Glossary:

Many Facilities Are Embracing Culture Change:

These Nursing Homes Care about Their Elderly Charges:

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