All nurses know that each patient who walks through the clinic or hospital doors is different. Patient in Room Two is more stubborn about their bed situation; while the patient in Room Six is very easy-going and just wants to get home. Each patient’s family and loved ones are different as well and just want what is best for their patient.

Patient-centered care is so important in the healthcare field because people are living longer than ever before. People used to walk into hospitals with one-time issues and leave; however, the same can no longer be said.  With an increase in life spans, it is important for healthcare professionals not to just focus on outcomes, but on improving the overall life of the patient.

What Is Patient-Centered Care?

The idea behind patient-centered care doesn’t mean giving the patient and family every single thing they ask for, it is about thinking and doing things with the patient’s perspective  as the primary point of view to make sure their needs are met. This means putting the patients and their family members first when it comes to decisions and giving the patient the best outcome possible. Patient-centered care can also be known as person-centered care, family-centered care, user-centered care, individualized care or personalized care.

The main point of patient-centered care is that the nurse is compassionate, thinking of things from the person’s point of view and not their own, and being respectful of all matters that are important to that patient and their family members.

The Eight Principles Of Patient-Centered Care

There are eight common principles developed by the Picker Institute in Patient-Centered Care:

1. Respect for patient’s preferences. This notion deals with the ideal of letting the patient be involved in decision making, and reminds nurses and doctors  that each patient is an individual with different needs and preferences. Finally, to always respect a patient’s cultural values and autonomy over their own body.

2. Coordination and integration with patient’s care. The hospital allows focus groups to give feedback and allow healthcare professionals to decide how to help make their care better.

3. The best thing to do is inform and educate your patients. If your patient has a concern or question, it is best to help them as much as possible. This can be directing them to someone who can answer their question, or figure it out yourself.

4. The physical comfort of a patient is important. As a nurse, always have them rate their pain levels so you can help make them as comfortable as possible.

5. A nurse can always try to help with emotional discomfort. It can be a difficult task, but it will help the patient in the end.

6. It is hard to always accommodate family and friends, but it’s important for the patient. You can involve them in decision-making times, give them support, and understand their needs as the caregivers and family members.

7. After a hospital stay, a patient may be concerned on how to continue to care for themselves. You can take them through each step and explain in the best detail possible.

8. Patients want to know they can access care at any time if need be. This is important for the hospital or clinic to make flexible hours for their patients.

How Nurses Can Improve & Maintain Patient-Centered Care

A nurse can improve and maintain patient-centered care by understanding their patient’s lifestyle. When you better understand your patient’s lifestyle, you are able to improve their overall care during and after their stay.

If you know that the patient will not change their lifestyle after their surgery or not continue on bed rest, for example, give this patient other options. Let him or her know they can do light walking, but not overdo it. You can also give them time frames of when they should rest and for how long. This will help keep them on their current lifestyle and improve their conditions.  

It is important to answer all of their questions and their family’s questions. The patient and loved ones are asking these questions to get the best results possible while the patient is at home.

Some common questions may be:

  • When does he or she take this medicine?
  • How long should we continue with the medicine?
  • What options are best for me considering my lifestyle?
  • How long will I be on bed rest?

These are some common questions that could be asked after a patient’s safe in the hospital. Just be calm and help them as much as possible.

The final way to improve and maintain patient-centered care is to understand the patient’s anxiety, sadness, anger, or other emotions; and be compassionate and understanding.The emotional stress of being in a hospital can take a toll on the patients and this can affect their physical state as well. A nurse affects their patient’s health more than they realize!

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