We talk to Adrian Sieff, Assistant Director at the Health Foundation, about the new person-centred care resource centre, which is launched this month. 

Why is the Health Foundation focusing so strongly on the need for person-centred care in the NHS?

Ultimately, person-centred care is about people taking back the control over their health and healthcare. We believe passionately that this is the way forward for the NHS.

We need to create a health system where people are supported to make informed decisions about and to successfully manage their own health and care (including choosing when to invite others to act on their behalf), rather than where patients have things done to them.

What needs to happen in order to make NHS care more person-centred?

Traditionally the world of medicine has focused on treating and curing problems in different parts of the body. This means that the health system isn’t set up to think about a person as a whole. But with the growth of long-term conditions, people’s health needs are changing and the balance has shifted.

The role of the health service is no longer just to intervene and fix us, it’s now also to support us to make decisions about and manage our health better. In order to do this well we need our NHS to learn how to deliver care that’s responsive to people’s individual abilities, preferences, lifestyles and goals. This is a challenging shift and a big learning curve.

How is the Health Foundation trying to support this change?

Through our programmes, research and partnerships with others – and through this resource centre. It’s designed to help health professionals, teams and services implement a more person-centred healthcare system.

We’ve brought together all our learning – gathered from the many improvement programmes we’ve run in the NHS, learning from others, national guidelines and resources – so that people can access credible information, evidence and tools at their fingertips.

I hope this will help people make this change to our health service. We know it can be done, but we need the delivery of person-centred care to now spread beyond a few innovative pockets to become 'just the way things are done in the NHS'.

The resource centre draws together and builds on content which was previously contained in our shared decision making and self-management support resource centres, bringing it all together into a single repository of knowledge, evidence and resources about person-centred care.

It’s great to see such a wealth of learning all in one place and really brings it home how much we can learn from innovators – nationally and internationally – and how much support there is to enable people who want to make the change and embed person-centred care.

What sort of resources does it offer?

We’re providing access to a whole range of practical tools and resources, and have also drawn together case studies, evidence and research to help people understand how to bring about change in their area.

This wider content is important as we’ve learnt that, while having the right tools is important, change really happens when people change their roles and their relationships. This requires us shifting our mindset and behaviours, whether as patients or as clinicians.

As a GP said recently when summarising their learning from our MAGIC programme, ‘skills trump tools, and attitudes trump all’. That’s what will turn the aspiration of person-centred care into reality.

Who is the resource centre aimed at?

We want the resource centre to be widely used by anyone with a role in changing practice, from clinicians to managers – and patients themselves.

We hope there’s something here for everyone:

  • A wealth of evidence explaining the need for person-centred care: for example Helping people help themselves and Helping people share decision making, which pull together all the latest research and academic thinking on these areas of person-centred care.
  • Tried and tested practical tools for clinicians to use when delivering person-centred care: from simple tools to help people with long-term conditions better manage their own health, like agenda setting, goal setting and action planning sheets, to brief decision aids like these option grids. These tools are designed to be used in the consulting room to help patients understand the treatment options available to them.
  • Tools and resources to help organisations become more person-centred: We are also sharing clinician training materials from our Co-creating Health and MAGIC programmes, which organisations can use to help their staff build skills in more person-centred ways of working.
  • Case studies showing how other organisations have gone about making the change: from this video about work in Newcastle across a range of care settings, to a case study from a cancer unit in Cardiff and developing buddies to support self-mangement in Ayrshire and Arran – different parts of the health service tell their own improvement stories about the process they went through and the changes they made. Whether you work in a hospital or in primary care, you’ll find a case study that you relate to and you can draw your learning from.

Are there plans to develop the resource centre further?

We’ll be adding to the resource centre all the time, as we find new case studies and tools and as new standards, guidelines and educational materials become available. I hope that over time we will also add new sections. So the resource centre will be an ever-evolving repository of information and support to enable people to make person-centred care ‘the way we do things around here’.

Visit the person-centred care resource centre.

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