Re-evaluating Person-Centeredness in Relation to the Workforce and Care for Older Adults




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Background: The term “person-centeredness” has been widely referenced and identified as a gold standard practice, especially in the care for older adults. However, many inconsistencies exist regarding its definition and implementation. With the recognition of caregivers being paramount to the improvement of healthcare quality, a clearer understanding of the term and its application to the healthcare workforce is needed. To address this issue, we aimed to identify key themes regarding the role of person-centeredness as it relates the workforce and care for older adults. Methods: Six think-tank meetings (two in-person; four virtual) were convened. The 38 participants included nurses, direct care workers, and dining staff from long-term care (LTC) settings; leaders of LTC organizations; and academic researchers in aging and LTC policy. Qualitative methods were used to analyze notes and transcripts. Results: Four overarching themes were identified: (1) Staff attitudes and practices toward person-centeredness tend to vary by care setting, due to differences in each setting’s inherent characteristics and goals of care. (2) Person-centeredness at the care level is conveyed through concrete practices of individual care providers; barriers involve both interpersonal competencies and organizational structures. (3) Supportive leadership is critical for staff to be empowered to approach care in a person-centered manner. (4) The lack of operationalized person-centeredness definitions has created inconsistencies in implementation. Conclusion: The definition of person-centeredness has grown from its original interpretation. These think-tanks centered on the workforce and care for older adults identified four themes that both align with and expand the current literature on person-centeredness and its implementation.