Person-Centeredness: What Is It?

Author: Melanie Perry

We hear much these days about the concept of Person-Centeredness, Resident-Oriented Care, or Person-Centered Care. There seems to be some confusion regarding this meaning, but if we distill it down to its most basic definition, it can be summed up as: knowing the person from a holistic perspective and providing them with a life that is individualized to meet his/her needs and preferences. Additionally, we understand that a “Use it or Lose it” philosophy is an important part of Person Centeredness, knowing that unless we encourage an individual to be as independent as possible, he/she may lose those abilities much faster than any disease progression would dictate.

In our discussion of Person Centeredness, it may help if we return to the philosophy’s roots.  Person Centered Care originated in England with the efforts of social psychologist, Tom Kitwood, in 1997 with his book Dementia Reconsidered: The Person Comes First. This book was an effort to improve the care of those living with Alzheimer’s and related forms of dementia, who at the time were still being subjected to medical model care philosophies which often tried to force the individual to meet the expectations of the institutions in which they were living.  Several concepts blossomed from this work, including seeing behaviors as a form of communication for those living with dementia; seeing the individual as a whole person, rather than just focusing of their challenges; and promoting quality of life by nurturing a wide array of human needs.

Since the original concepts of Kitwood were expressed, the notion of Person Centeredness has continued to advance throughout, and beyond, the world of dementia care and now includes a host of compassionate, individualized, humanistic principles. Care recommendations such as encouraging those in long term care venues to sleep until they are ready to rise; providing an abundance of meal choices to meet resident preferences; minimizing the medical aspects of care and emulating home settings within long term care venues; and providing individualized life enrichment opportunities that speak to each person’s historical and current interests are but a few examples of Person Centered practices occurring in a wide variety of care settings.

American Senior Communities proudly embraces Person Centered Care practices in our Auguste’s Cottage Memory Care neighborhoods. We offer a meaningful, wellness-based and individualized lifestyle, while still providing excellent health care offerings, when needed, to our residents. Our Cottages strive to provide the most current, empirically-based care practices available, while offering a home environment that minimizes the institutional aspects of the care venue.

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