Person-Centred Care for Patient Safety and Wellbeing


Published: 10 December 2023

The outdated view of patients as passive recipients of care has given way to one where individuals are seen as active participants and partners in healthcare, with a valuable perspective and a vested interest in ensuring safe care (Byrne et al. 2020).

This concept, known as person-centred care (or patient-centred care), is fundamental to quality practice.

Person-centred care is a holistic approach to healthcare that comprises:

  • Treating patients as individual people rather than just conditions to be managed
  • Finding out what is important to patients, their families and carers
  • Establishing trust and mutual respect
  • Shared decision-making between patients and clinicians
  • Treating patients with dignity, respect and compassion
  • Providing care that suits individual patients’ needs and helps them achieve their goals
  • Supporting patients to understand their own health
  • Involving patients in their care
  • Coordinating care between providers and ensuring continuity of care.

(ACSQHC 2019; Better Health Channel 2015)

Person-Centred Care

What Does it Mean to Deliver Care in a Person-centred Way?

  • The patient is at the centre of the service they are receiving and are supported to make decisions about their life
  • The patient’s life experience, age, gender, culture, heritage, language, beliefs and identity are all taken into account in the delivery of care
  • The services provided are flexible to meet the patient’s preferences and priorities
  • Care is strengths-based; in other words, there is a greater focus placed on what the patient can do rather than what they require help with, and the recipient is considered to be the expert of their own life The recipient’s support networks work with the service provider in a partnership.

(NSW Health 2022)

Overall, the goal of person-centred care is to enable the patient to establish and maintain control over their life (NSW Health 2022).

Person-centred Care v Service/System-centred Care

Service/system-centred care focuses on the way in which a person fits into a system and how the system can ‘service’ them. This approach adopts a medical model that defines people by ‘deficiencies’ that the system needs to ‘fix’ (Open Future Learning 2013).

On the other hand, person-centred care means ensuring the person, their capabilities, and their community - rather than the organisation or system - is at the centre of your work (NDP 2016; Open Future Learning 2013).

For example:

Person-Centred Care Service/System-Centred Care
You talk to the recipient You talk about the recipient
You plan together with the recipient You plan for the recipient
You focus on the recipient’s strengths, abilities and skills You focus on labels, diagnosis and deficits
You find community-based solutions that could work for any person You find solutions that work for people with a specific diagnosis
You do things in a way that work for the recipient You do things in a way that work for the staff or organisation
You view the recipient’s family and community as partners in care You view the recipient’s family and community as peripheral

(NDP 2016)

The Benefits of Person-centred Care

Person-centred care has numerous benefits, including:

  • Decreased mortality rates
  • Shorter lengths of stay in hospital
  • Decreased readmission rates
  • Decreased risk of healthcare-acquired infections
  • Improved functional capacity
  • Patient and carer satisfaction
  • Improved patient experience
  • Improved adherence to treatment regimens
  • Decreased patient anxiety
  • Increased patient trust.

(Health.vic 2015a; ACSQHC 2023)

Viewing Patients as Individuals

An important part of delivering person-centred care is gaining an understanding of the person as an individual and acknowledging their strengths and qualities.

It’s important to know:

  • The patient’s history
  • What matters to the patient, e.g. their relationships, routines, and interests
  • The patient’s goals for the future
  • The way in which the patient would like to be supported
  • The way in which the patient communicates
  • The way in which the patient makes decisions
  • What the patient feels is and isn’t working in regards to the care they are receiving
  • The patient’s friendships, relationships, and community.

(NDS & HSA 2014)

Practical Ways to Implement Person-centred Care

Examples of person-centred care in everyday practice include:

  • Smiling at and introducing yourself to patients
  • Wearing a name tag
  • Explaining your role to patients
  • Taking the time to ask patients how they are feeling (both physically and mentally)
  • Remembering that patients are people who have individual lives outside of the care environment
  • Treating patients as equal participants in their care
  • Listening to patients
  • Taking into consideration the knowledge patients have about their own health
  • Listening to patients’ families and carers
  • Keeping in mind that care environments are often unfamiliar and frightening for patients and their loved ones and providing care accordingly
  • Understanding that patients may feel lonely or isolated
  • Providing patients with all necessary information to make informed decisions about their care.

(Health.vic 2015b)


Person-centred care is a holistic and genuine approach to healthcare that supports people in leading the lives they want. The way that health professionals respond to care recipients’ health issues, vulnerabilities, personalities, and situations can have a significant and often long-lasting impact on their health and wellbeing. Furthermore, person-centred care has been demonstrated to positively influence health outcomes and the degree of satisfaction that carers derive from their work.



Tracy Levett-Jones View profile
Professor Tracy Levett-Jones is the Director of the Research Centre for Health Professional Education at the University of Newcastle. Her research interests include: belongingness, clinical reasoning, empathy, interprofessional education, cultural competence, simulation and patient safety. Tracy has authored ten books, the most recent being 'Clinical Reasoning: Learning to think like a nurse' and Critical Conversations for Patient Safety'; as well as over 200 book chapters, reports and peer reviewed journal articles. Tracy has been the recipient of multiple teaching and learning awards and has been awarded over two million dollars in grant funding.
educator profile image
Ausmed View profile
Ausmed’s editorial team is committed to providing high-quality, well-researched and reputable education to our users, free of any commercial bias or conflict of interest. All education produced by Ausmed is developed in consultation with healthcare professionals and undergoes a rigorous review process to ensure the relevancy of all healthcare information and updates to changes in practice. If you have identified an issue with the education offered by Ausmed or wish to submit feedback to Ausmed's editorial team, please email with your concerns.