The three cornerstones of person-centred care

The partnership

Health and social care need to view the patient as an active partner. This partnership involves respect for the person’s knowledge about themselves and their health problems as well as respect for the healthcare professionals' knowledge about diagnostics, healthcare, treatment and rehabilitation. The partnership is set out clearly in a jointly produced health plan containing goals, strategies and follow-up. Both the team’s and the patient’s rights and responsibilities are made clear.

The patient narrative

In person-centred care, the patient’s narrative is the foundation. This provides us with a picture of the patient’s entire situation and allows us to understand their emotional, social and practical needs, their motivations and goals and help them harness their resources. It involves focusing on the meeting with a fellow human being who is living with illness/ill-health, rather than focusing on the illness that person has. By doing so we also contribute to the patient gaining a greater understanding and taking more responsibility for their own health.


Everyone must have access to their medical records and reports. All information related to a patient’s health has to be collected in one place in order to enable consistent and coherent health and social care. This includes medical records, health plan, the person’s own notes and registration of health status, as well as relevant documentation from the Swedish Social Insurance Agency and other bodies.

Evidence of higher quality and greater efficiency

The likelihood of improvement increased by 2.7 times for patients with acute coronary syndrome

Fors et al., 2015

Significantly improved health and quality of life

Feldthusen et al., 2016 Brännström & Boman, 2014

Increased self-efficacy among patients

Fors et al., 2015

Reduced incontinence among older people living in residential care facilities

Wijk et al., 2018

Reduced costs and hospital stays 30% shorter in cases of chronic heart failure

Ekman et al., 2012 Hansson et al., 2016

Curious about more research?

Visit the GPCC website

Voices on person-centred care

I often think that the term person-centred care has two sides and that healthcare professionals must also be people to those of us who are relatives. That means better continuity when meeting doctors, primarily, but preferably the entire team. Without the meeting between two parties who are “people” to each other, the term becomes hollow. We don’t want to meet with a “care system”, where everyone is constantly replaceable. Within advanced healthcare in the home, my husband and I came across this view of both the patient and the team. There was continuity, time and a comprehensive view where everyone in the team had a focus on not just the cancer but also on all aspects of life and wellbeing during my husband’s last difficult years.
Britt-Marie Ahrnell (eng)
The person-centred approach has affected me in that I now listen more than talk when meeting patients. I feel a greater sense of humility in that meeting. I no longer assume that I know what information the patient wants and how they want to receive it; instead I try to find out before I inform them. If I have to provide information ahead of an operation, I put greater emphasis on what the patients “wants” to talk about rather than what I “should” be saying. There are some things I need to work into the conversation, but that must not take up the entire meeting, and if there are other things that are more important to the patient, the focus must also be on these issues. Listening to patients has become more important to me.
Susanne Ahlstedt Karlsson
I am now significantly more attentive in terms of providing the patient with support to be more involved, aware, active and committed to their care. I focus on them setting their own goals and on us working together to achieve them. This is a satisfactory approach as the response from the patient that they feel seen and that they are involved is so apparent. This has also resulted in huge improvements in terms of our teamwork, where all professions are represented. As early as the first patient survey, it became evident that they felt more involved and satisfied with their stay in hospital. It is easier to motivate patients when they are working towards goals they have set themselves. The rehabilitation has improved as we are all working towards the same goals in a more structured manner. When a patient received their inpatient care plan they said: “This is what I have been missing on previous occasions, information about what has happened and what is about to happen, now I know what to focus on.”
Maria Lindstrand
Assistant nurse
We have been working to develop a person-centred approach since 2011 and, above all, this has led to increased teamwork in which the patient is an obvious part of the team. The results of the change mean that we now have shorter hospital stays but also more satisfied patients. The approach has been adopted in the organisation and the change is stable. What sometimes becomes an obstacle to the person-centred approach is the high rate of staff turnover.
Jerzy Kaczynski
Chief Physician and Head of Section
I have long experience of being a patient since the early 1960s. My experience is that many of the people who work in healthcare now see me as an equal, a partner, which makes me feel like there is a mutual respect. What I see as a part of person-centred care is that I, as a patient, can access my medical record more or less as soon as the latest note has been registered. This has been made possible thanks to digital technology. As I patient, I also want the opportunity to add my own notes to my medical record. The healthcare system today is better at listening to me as a person and also telling me what is being planned and the results of investigations. However, there is still a lot that can be improved to make me, as a patient, more involved in my own care.
Håkan Hedman
Working with person-centred care has improved the way I speak to patients. I try to be more curious, to ask open questions and really listen and let the patient finish what they are saying. I feel that I am sometimes surprised by the answers I receive. What I think is important for the patient on the basis of what they present with can turn out to be completely wrong. The patient wants something completely different. When drawing up a plan for treatment, I ensure that the we are in agreement about what is going to happen. I have also become more thorough in terms of setting goals together with the patient. Both the patient and I feel more satisfied with the appointment and it is easier for the patient to find the motivation when they have decided for themselves what is important.
Anette Larsson