The Picker Principles of Person Centred care

What is the definition of person centred care?

A person centred approach puts people at the heart of health and social services, including care, support, and enablement. It is an approach where users are recognised as individuals, encouraged to play an active role in their care, and where their needs and preferences are understood and respected.

Positive therapeutic relationships are essential to high quality person centred care, and so the phrase also encompasses the experiences of health and care staff. Care staff deserve to have rewarding, fulfilling roles and to work in environments that support their own wellbeing and enable them to provide the highest standards of care.

Since we were first established, Picker has worked to promote and spread the idea of person centred care. Our Picker Principles of Person Centred Care – developed following original research with patients, their families, and staff – set out a framework for understanding what matters most to most people, and what constitutes high quality person centred care.

The Eight Picker Principles of Person Centred Care

The Picker Principles of Person Centred Care address every facet of care across patients’ and users’ pathways.

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Fast access to reliable healthcare advice

Access to the right services at the right time is essential for high quality care that meets individuals’ needs. Access includes: ease of scheduling appointments; minimal waiting for referrals or treatment; and availability of appropriate professionals and advice. Fast, easy access is important both for routine care and unplanned crises.

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Effective treatment by trusted professionals

Positive therapeutic relationships are at the heart of person centred care. People should receive clinically appropriate and effective care that meets their needs and is respectful of their preferences. Interactions with care professionals should inspire a sense of confidence and trust.

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Continuity of care and smooth transitions

Care journeys bring people into contact with a range of providers and staff. Ensuring these transitions are seamless is vital to person centred, coordinated care. All people should experience continuity in information; in the relationships they have with staff; and in the way their care is managed.

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Involvement and support for family and carers

Providers and staff must acknowledge the importance of people’s families, carers, friends, and wider support networks in their overall health and wellbeing. Their involvement should be welcomed and supported. The emotional impact of caring responsibilities should not be underestimated: carers need to feel supported throughout.

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Clear information, communication and support for self-care

People using health and care services should receive reliable, high quality, and accessible information at every stage in their journey. Information should be provided at appropriate times, in an understandable way, and should support people to make informed decisions and manage their own care.

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Involvement in decisions and respect for preferences

People have the right to be involved in and to make decisions about their health and care. Providers should work with people in equal, reciprocal partnerships, and should respect people’s choices and preferences – including but not limited to those that reflect their background, social, and cultural values.

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Emotional support, empathy and respect

Person centred care demands a caring and holistic approach. People providing care should show empathy and respect, recognising an individual’s emotional needs. For care to be compassionate it must be delivered with respect, sensitivity, and appreciation of the person as an individual.

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Attention to physical and environmental needs

People deserve to be treated and cared for in safe, comfortable environments that afford them privacy and dignity. Similarly, care professionals should be mindful of people’s physical needs – including pain management, assistance with activities, and personal care.

Today, this approach is widely recognised as the preferred model of care. For care providers and systems to understand whether and to what extent the care they offer is person centred, it is essential to ask the people receiving these services about their experiences. The patient experience approach, which we pioneered, is now used around the world – and we continue to develop and use measures of people’s experiences that take account of the eight Picker Principles of Person Centred Care.

The Principles are key to our research: we use them as a person centred care framework to collate evidence – enabling us to influence policy and practice for the better.

At Picker, we are committed to putting our Picker Principles of Person Centred Care into practice. We believe that everybody deserves high quality care, and that understanding the nature of each person’s needs and preferences are integral to providing this.

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