What GPs have to say
Patients are a key resource in care, not just a set of problems.
Isabel HodkinsonGP and principal clinical lead for Tower Hamlets CCG
I believe clinicians can be more effective by talking about solutions rather than problems with patients, particularly with people with long term conditions.
For example, GPs often tell patients with diabetes ‘you need to lose weight’. Most people find this unhelpful and de-motivating. A GP taking a person-centred care approach would explore what is important to the patient, share the medical risks and treatment options and support the person to find solutions.
This is a change of approach for the health service. We need to move away from a ‘disease’ model where we treat the patients’ problems to one where we focus on the patient as a person, supporting them to achieve what they want.
I have learned that my patients value this approach. When I started to adopt a person-centred approach I was sceptical. I doubted that patients wanted more decision-making power or that they would feel able to make treatment choices. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The vast majority of patients value being listened to.
Interestingly when I work in this way patients often come up with more creative responses than the standard medical treatments. They often choose to treat less and where they do choose treatment, people are more confident and committed to it.
Giving people power and control over their health and care improves the quality of their experience of care and leads to improved outcomes.
What patients have to say
Person-centred care has given me control of my long-term conditions.
I have not one, but several long-term conditions and endure the associated pain, depression and fatigue. Learning about person-centred care has led me to take more responsibility for my health. I now manage my conditions in a better way.
I have learned several practical ways to utilise person-centred care. For example, when I attend a consultation with a healthcare professional I come prepared with a list of things that I want to discuss. I also ask to talk through targets and goals which feel realistic and desirable to me.
This style of consultation seems entirely logical to me. A patient brings their day-to-day experience of living with one or more conditions to the consultation and can then benefit from a healthcare professional’s background and knowledge. I feel my consultations are more productive and that I have a more collaborative relationship with the healthcare professionals I meet with. I feel I am being listened to and we work together to find solutions to my problems.
Sometimes this approach does require a change from the healthcare professional. They need to be prepared to revolve around the patient’s needs and be comfortable letting you take a role in finding solutions.
My increased confidence and knowledge has enabled me to make decisions I wouldn’t have been able to previously. For example; I no longer take insulin for my type 2 diabetes. I found it very restrictive and I now manage the condition by leading a healthier lifestyle.
Being more involved and proactive in my health has been hugely beneficial to me. I feel far more positive about my health as I am in control of my conditions rather than them controlling me.