ER-WCPT: Define and deliver to empower your patients, says panel

Do physical therapists have a shared understanding of what patient-centred care really means?


Delegates at the ER-WCPT conference. Photo: Darren O’Brien/Guzelian

This was one of the questions posed during a debate about the delivery of patient-centred health and social care for people with long-term conditions.

Stefan TinoKulnik, a researcher at Kingston and St George’s, University of London, told delegates:

‘Professor Fiona Jones, one of my mentors and a leader in this field, emphasises that it is important to 'define and deliver'.

''Person-centred care' can be a bit of a catch-all phrase for a number of things that most of us would agree are important. Many of us would say we are doing these already: care and treatment that is compassionate, respectful, collaborative, coordinated and empowering.

‘But when we think about how we actually 'do', or improve, person-centred care, it can become difficult to pin down a starting point.’

Mr Kulnik argued that person-centred care means focusing on the individual and identifying their concerns and priorities.

‘It has to start with the person. We need to create a space to bring the patient in, listen to their opinions and get their feedback.

‘And it’s really about being able to share knowledge and benefit from working together, and finding and creating solutions together.’

‘People-centred’ not ‘person centred’

Daniel Catalan-Matamoros, an associate professor at University Carlos III of Madrid in Spain, spoke about the factors currently affecting the European provision of health and social care. He said contributing issues included

  • Europe’s increasing ageing population
  • a rise in migration, with refuges from Syria and other countries
  • new technologies and interventions
  • an increase in non-communicable diseases such as MSK conditions, mental health problems, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases

Delegates heard that the World Health Organization had outlined a future vision of patient-centred care in its strategy document, European Health Policy: Health 2020, published in 2012.

‘The WHO are moving from describing a ‘person-centred’ approach to using a ‘people-centred’ approach, because it is a more inclusive concept,' said Professor Catalan-Matamoros.

‘It is an umbrella term that recognises that they are healthy people before they become patients, and that they need to be informed and empowered to promote and protect their own health.’

Promote interdisciplinary working

Janke de Groot, a programme leader with the Quality and Organization of Care and Cure initiative at the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research, spoke about patient-centred care in relation to her research. This focuses on physical activity in children with chronic disease or physical disability.

She told delegates it was important for clinicians to foster an interdisciplinary approach.

‘In patient-centred care it is really important to reach out to other professions and work together – we need to know when to refer a patient on and to whom, but then work together, rather than just passing them on to be fixed by someone else.’

Author: Robert Millett

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