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RCP policy: person-centred care

What we are doing

Person-centred care means understanding what is important for the individual as a person, not just a patient with a condition. This understanding facilitates discussions and shared decisions about personalised care planning and management.

The RCP is committed to promoting person-centred care in practice. By bringing together both patients and doctors, the RCP aims to provide support and practical guidance to doctors to help improve and embed person-centred care. It is a core component of the RCP Quality Improvement programme, which aims to provide doctors with practical support to develop and provide safe, timely, evidence-based, efficient and patient-centred care.

What is person-centred care?

Person-centred care — also referred to as patient-centred care or lay-centred care — is a core indicator of quality in healthcare. There is not a standard set of agreed principles for person-centred care, but the concept encourages all those who work in the health sector to take a holistic approach to care and recognise a patient’s preferences, individuality, and the difference this makes to treatment choices and the management of longer-term conditions.

Being person-centred is not just about actions, but a way of thinking about relationships and interactions. Becoming more person-centred can be immensely rewarding for both doctors and patients.

Benefits of person-centred care

Person-centred care in practice

There is broad consensus that person-centred care needs to be embedded across health and social care. In reality, implementation is patchy.

NHS England’s Five Year Forward View identifies that more could be done to involve people in their care and to make care more individual. In a 2017 National Voices survey, 24% of people admitted via A&E said they were not given enough — or any — information about their condition or treatment. Only 56% of inpatients surveyed reported being as involved as they wanted to be in decisions about treatments. By contrast, 78% of cancer patients reported being as involved as they wanted to be in decisions and treatment. 

Healthcare teams working with the RCP’s Future Hospital Programme put person-centred care and the patient’s experience of care at the heart of progress and quality. Its final report, Delivering the future hospital, has shown that local support can be effective in improving person-centred care in a financially constrained, politically exposed healthcare system. Together we can achieve more, and raise the bar across the board.

What we have produced

As part of our aim of developing a shared understanding of what person-centred care means, the RCP has produced some top tips in partnership with our Patient and Carer Network.

Delivering the future hospital is an account of the successes, challenges and learning from the Future Hospital Programme.

These Tell us your story case studies demonstrate a key recommendation of the Future Hospital Commission report in action: services should be tailored to meet the needs of individual patients.