Person-centred practice promotes a partnership between the clinician and the patient, their family and carers. The underlying principles are respect and dignity.

Person-centred practice is important because it can improve experiences and outcomes for our patients and improves our own satisfaction and morale.

  • Person-centred practice is crucial in reducing functional decline in older people in hospital, for example:
    • if we know what patients prefer to eat and drink they are much less likely to lose weight or become dehydrated in hospital
    • if we know that a patient likes to walk to the letterbox every day we can encourage them to keep active while in hospital so they can continue this when they go home
    • if we listen to the family’s concerns about a change in a patient’s level of alertness, we can investigate delirium
    • if we understand how a patient takes their medication, we can tailor new regimes to this routine.
  • Person-centred practice can mean decreased mortality, readmission rates and healthcare-acquired infections; improved functional status; a shorter length of stay in hospital; and increased patient and carer satisfaction.1
  • Person-centred practice improves the patient’s experience, reduces their anxiety and enhances trust – all important in an unfamiliar hospital environment.
  • Person-centred practice leads to better outcomes through partnerships and shared decision-making.

‘When you are caring for somebody who is acutely unwell, it is hard to sometimes look at them as a person and not just as a bunch of observations’ – Luke, graduate nurse2


1. National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards 2012: 23; Institute for Healthcare Improvement 2011: 6; Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care 2010: 15.

2. Best care for older people in hospital: the patient experience