Patient- and family-centered care is an approach to health care that is grounded in mutually beneficial partnerships among patients, families, and health care professionals. Patients are seen as active participants in their care. The word "family" and the role family members play in health care is defined by each individual patient. Because of their central role in a patient’s life, families are not viewed as visitors in health care settings; they are supported and encouraged in their caregiving and decision-making roles.
Collaboration at all levels of care is an essential aspect of this approach to care— collaboration in the clinical encounter, and collaboration in policy and program development and professional education.
Fundamental to the successful implementation of patient- and family-centered care are changes in attitudes and behavior. Members of the health care team must be willing and able to work together across disciplines and to collaborate with patients and families. In order to facilitate the acquisition of the attitudes and behaviors necessary to carry out family-centered principles, it is necessary to model them in practice and to incorporate them into the education and training process of all health professionals.
Patient and family faculty programs are a major component of family-centered education of health care professionals. In these programs, patients and families collaborate with health professionals in the education of medical students, nursing students, and other trainees, and in the provision of inservice training as well.
Patient and family faculty programs provide opportunities for trainees to learn first-hand from health care consumers about their experiences and feelings. They create opportunities for candid dialogue with health care consumers outside the clinical encounter. They also model collaboration with consumers and showcase the competencies of patients and families.
An assessment tool is available here which is useful in evaluating the degree to which the curriculum, culture, and educational approach of a medical education program is likely to foster the competencies and attitudes necessary to practice family-centered care.
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