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Person-centred care

What is person-centred care?

Person-centred care sees patients as equal partners in planning, developing and assessing care to make sure it is most appropriate for their needs. It involves putting patients and their families at the heart of all decisions.

Person-centred care aims to be user focused, promote independence and autonomy, provide choice and control and be based on a collaborative team philosophy. It takes into account service users' needs and views and builds relationships with family members. 


Person-centred care involves:

  • Compassion, dignity and respect – these are the essential foundation for the greater involvement of people in their own care.
  • Shared decision making – this requires the involvement of patients as equal partners in their healthcare. Tools to support shared decision making can include self-management support, access to personal health records, personal health budgets, care planning and shared treatment decisions.
  • Collective patient and public involvement – this is about involving people in decisions about the design and delivery of services. Examples of collective patient and public involvement include consultation of communities of patients in commissioning decisions and public engagement in reconfiguration decisions.

In England the White Paper, Liberating the NHS: Equity and Excellence, emphasises the importance of giving people more autonomy and control over their healthcare. The principle of 'No decision about me without me' underpins the NHS reform plans. The intention is that patients will get more choice and control, backed by an information revolution, so that services are more responsive to patients and designed around them, rather than patients having to fit around services. 

Person-centred care is also one of the key drivers for Scotland's healthcare quality strategy. Promoting and encouraging partnerships between staff, patients, clients and carers to support decision making is an objective of Northern Ireland’s quality strategy.

Person-centred care: the story so far

This timeline (published in November 2013) is a visual guide through the key events that have contributed to the move towards a more person-centred health service over the past 50 years.

Click on 'Start Prezi' below to load the content, then use the right hand arrow in the middle of the black bar at the bottom to work your way through.


The ‘personalisation agenda’ in health and social care is a priority in the UK, shown by the focus on single sex hospital wards, promoting more empathy in end-of-life care and emphasising autonomy, dignity and privacy. In England joint guidance has been published with a range of tools and good practice examples from social care. 

Personal budgets are being tested in the NHS in England to help put people in control of how, where and from whom they receive services. Personal budgets can work in many ways and the Health Foundation’s case study The Personal Touch explores the lessons from the Dutch experience of personal health budgets. 

Self-management courses such as those run as part of Co-creating Health aim to empower people with the skills and confidence to manage their care. Evaluations suggest that successful self-management programmes are not solely about the education course itself, but also require linking the programme into other policies and activities and changing the behaviour and mindset of staff so they accept patient empowerment.

The Department of Health in England’s Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention programme aims to improve the quality of care the NHS delivers while making up to £20billion of efficiency savings by 2014-15. The programme’s 'right care' workstream includes a focus upon increasing value by helping the individual patient make a decision that is right for their values. The 'long term conditions' workstream seeks to improve clinical outcomes and experience for patients with long-term conditions.

Patient decision aids are being developed by NHS Direct. They are designed to help patients make difficult decisions about their treatments and medical tests.

New HealthWatch organisations are being set up in England to act as a voice for patients, funded by and accountable to local authorities.

Measuring experience

Measuring people’s experience is now an important marker of quality. Hospitals are required to collect feedback from service users as part of regulation by the Care Quality Commission and general practices collect feedback to demonstrate effectiveness for the Quality and Outcomes Framework.

There is a move towards collecting real time feedback and displaying this online to help people make better choices about their care and to motivate service improvement.

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