Main Article Content
At a time when overspecialisation is the norm, nurses and other health professions are challenged to provide holistic care that treats the human person as more than a collection of body organs. A person-centred approach focuses on addressing the person, rather than their illness condition. In this model, treatment and care provided by health services place the person and their families at the centre of their own care and with their full participation.In its emphasis on a holistic perspective, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) locates person-centred care within the larger context of family and community in a dynamic and interactive state. This means that a person-centred approach must consider the family and community setting and its impact on the health and illness of the person. Person-centred care is broad in scope and requires a set of skills for nurses and other members of the health team.ICN’s Basic Principles of Nursing Care affirms that the nurse is only justified in deciding for, rather than with, what is good for the patient in highly dependent states, such as when a patient is in a coma. At all other times the rights, values, needs and preferences of people are paramount in decision making and must be used to tailor care to meet the patient’s specific needs.A team approach is the cornerstone of person-centred health care and nurses have a major contribution to make in this context. In today’s complex health care systems, it is impossible for any one professional group to deliver person-centred care on its own and the team approach is a sine qua non for achieving the desired health outcomes. Nurses are a vital component of health teams and their role in and contribution to health teams is mandated by ethical and professional obligations. The ICN Code of Ethics for Nurses, for example, affirms that “the nurse sustains a co-operative relationship with co-workers in nursing and other fields”. By their presence in varied health care settings and proximity to patient care, nurses are vital to the delivery of person-centred care. However, despite this key function of nurses, they are often absent from decision-making and policy matters. This nursing gap in policy participation can be a major barrier to effective health team functioning and can impact on the success of person-centred care.
Third Geneva Conference on Person-Centered Medicine: The Team Approach