Person-Centered Care

Every day, older adults who live with chronic conditions can struggle with being independent and doing what they want to do.

At the same time, health care in the United States is typically cure-focused, with providers forgetting that people are only “patients” when inside a medical building. Health care misses a big opportunity to help people meet their variety of goals…the other 98 percent of the time.

Health care should support your life goals, at any age.

Person-centered care means that a person’s values and preferences guide all aspects of their health care. It means care designed to help people achieve what matters most to them.

Join the discussion at #PersonCenteredCare.

Setting the Frame

The American Geriatrics Society and the University of Southern California convened experts to create a formal, actionable definition of person-centered care.

Four articles were published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (JAGS):

  1. Defined person-centered care
  2. Explored the relationship between person-centered, better care and lower costs
  3. Provided a comprehensive literature review
  4. Described ways organizations are using person-centered care for a high-need older population.

8 Essential Elements

AGS identified eight elements that make care ‘person-centered.’

  • A care plan based on the person’s values and an initial assessment
    Suggested treatments allow Tom to still work in the garden with his grandchildren, something he says is important to him.
  • Ongoing review of the person’s goals and care plan
    Tom’s goals and care plan are reviewed regularly. As his health changes, Tom expresses his preferences. 
  • Unified team with the person at the center
    Care decisions are made by the patient, Tom, with support from providers and caregivers.
  • One contact responsible for coordination and communication
    Tom’s nurse Marisa understands all the moving parts and can answer any questions Tom has.
  • Active care coordination among all health care and supportive service teams
    Marisa coordinates all of Tom’s appointments and services so time is used efficiently; this helps Tom and his caregivers feel more productive and satisfied.
  • Information shared with everyone caring for the person
    Marisa makes sure important information is shared with everyone who is part of Tom’s care team, so nothing falls through the cracks.
  • Education and training on person-centered care for all involved
    The hospital has training policies that help Marisa and the larger care team better support Tom. The team understands how Tom’s goals and wishes affect his medical outcomes.
  • Ongoing feedback so care is continually improved
    Tom and his team talk honestly about what’s working and make necessary changes based on his progress.
Photo by Kristin Chalmers for Community Catalyst

Having an Impact

Person-centered care is achieved through a dynamic relationship between a person, those who are important to them, and all their health care providers. This collaboration informs decision-making to the extent that the person desires.

The Associated Press/National Opinion Research Center created the Long-Term Care Poll to understand attitudes and opinions about long-term care and aging in America.

These studies revealed widespread support for person-centered care policies, but there no single approach to providing person-centered care. Still, 60 percent of Americans age 40 and older say person-centered care proposals would be helpful in improving the quality care. Read more about the research.

Making the Business Case

Older adults with chronic health conditions and daily living challenges often need support from a variety of providers to live well in the place they call home. Person-centered care works for older adults with chronic health conditions and daily living needs, but how does it apply to health care organizations?  Is it financially sustainable?

Making the business case for new models of care requires a comprehensive financial analysis that includes a return on investment (ROI).

The SCAN Foundation ROI Calculator is designed to help health care organizations develop and operate person-centered care models that serve high-need older adults.

Access the calculator and instructions.

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