All too often we see care providers being seduced into worrying about safe, effective, caring, responsive and well led and forgetting that these are merely tools for measuring the quality of care provided in a service. Perhaps more important are the fundamental standards which set the safety net below which the quality of care must not drop. The question is though, can you name list them? And then even if you can, do you know that they mean? And, FUNDAMENTALLY, do you adhere to them?

The first and most important fundamental standard is person-centred care. Person-centred care is a philosophy of care which places the service user at the heart of everything, from the assessing, planning, delivering and evaluation of care. To deliver truly person-centred care takes time and effort and requires care providers to not only listen to the service user but to act in what they hear. One issue we are asked about time and again as a care planning platform provider is “do you have any specimen care plans?”. the simple answer is no we don’t because every service user is unique and so every care plan is unique, person-centred – there are no specimen service users, so there are no specimen care plans.

Person-centred care planning is about involving all of the people important to the service user in the development of the care plan. This means, as seen here in a snippet from our person-centred care planning policy taking the time to discuss the individual’s needs, wants, relationships, aspirations, goals etc. with all of the people who are important to them and in the achievement of the plan. One of the pitfalls of planning which some providers fall into is creating unrealistic plans ABOUT rather than WITH the person accessing their service. This pitfall is deepened when service providers fail to engage the people who know the service user the best and who are important to them.

Of course, as with many aspects of care it is easy to see person-centredness as an add on, a ‘nice to have’ if only we had the time, but it is so much more than this.  If you are struggling with the concept, or you have staff who just don’t get it, ask yourself, or them some simple questions:

  • Would you like someone else to decide when you go to bed or get up?
  • Would you like someone else to choose what you eat and when?
  • Do you want someone else to choose your clothes and what you wear?
  • Do you want someone else to choose how you spend your time, who you spend it with and for how long?

I suspect the answer to all of these would be a resounding “no!”.  So now ask the question, why do you think that is OK to impose on someone else?  Well is it?