Promoting person-centred care and patient safety
We are going to start our ‘first steps’ as health care assistants focusing on two ideas that will dominate how you work day by day:
- basing what we do on what the person wants and needs
- ensuring that everything we do keeps the person safe from harm of any kind, be it physical, emotional or even financial.
Basing what we do on what the person wants and needs is the cornerstone of person-centred care. As we’ll come to discover, it’s about placing the person you are caring for, and not the health care system you work for, first. This is crucial to providing a service that will meet the person’s needs and which can make you and your colleagues proud.
Patient safety is a term you will hear a lot during your work as a health care assistant. The ‘safety’ part of it doesn’t just apply to people’s physical well-being: it’s also important that we take steps to protect their emotional state, preserve their dignity by acting in an ethical and respectful way, recognise when people are vulnerable and take steps to reduce any risks to their safety, and make sure the environment people are in does not pose dangers to them and others.
It’s also about safeguarding people by ensuring we do not speak about them or their health issues with anyone except those with a legitimate interest (your colleagues in the team or a relative nominated by the person, for instance) – what we call protecting the person’s confidentiality – and that we do not do anything with or to a person without him or her understanding exactly what we are proposing to do and why (called gaining the person’s consent).
Last, but certainly not least, ensuring patient safety relies on all health care workers having the ability to recognise when something is not quite right and knowing how to report this to ensure action. We will look at this issue in a section called ‘Raising concerns’.
We have placed this section first in the resource because we believe thinking in a person-centred way and constantly having the patient’s safety uppermost in your mind are crucial to being an effective health care worker. If we can develop these mindsets now, they will serve us – and our patients/clients – well throughout our careers. Thinking in these ways will also help you as you work through the resource, considering each section from a person-centred/patient-safety viewpoint and reflecting on the effects for your practice.
Let’s start our exploration of these key ideas by looking at what person-centred care really means.