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Practice comment

‘Patient profiles allow nurses to provide person-centred care’

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Helen Croft shares her enthusiasm for patient profiles as an alternative to standard care planning activity to increase service users’ engagement with their care

I recently attended a conference called ’Knowing you, Knowing me’ at my local trust, which discussed person-centred healthcare practices. During the day a representative from Helen Sanderson Associates discussed the use of one-page person profiles as an alternative to standard care planning activity. A one-page profile captures all the important information about a person on a single sheet of paper under three simple headings: what people appreciate about me, what’s important to me and how best to support me. I was dubious about their use at first but I couldn’t stop thinking about the approach and the potential impact they could make to people’s lives, not only in my own field of mental health but across all nursing disciplines. So I decided to learn more.

I discovered that collaborative practices with our patients and their carers – despite being the gold standard for achieving person-centred nursing care as well as supporting positive outcomes – was lacking. For the most part, our service users remain passive participants of care. Only 34% of service users are involved in shared decisions about the care they experience. Collaboration cultivates person-centred nursing practice by allowing a shared purpose to be developed between patients and practitioners when promoting positive outcomes. An understanding of what is important to service receivers increases the nurse’s confidence and knowledge when promoting engagement in health behaviours, and encourages self-management.

One-page person profiles can reduce passive patient participation in the nursing process. They focus on people’s strengths, on what is important to them and how we as healthcare professionals can help them, not from our prescriptive perspectives, but from their own viewpoints. The profiles de-medicalise and simplify care planning activity but, importantly, they are reflective of a person’s personality. They are also a useful medium of communication that can be used across disciplinary boundaries and allow service users to maintain their individuality when accessing care from multiple providers.

Professionals can also use them as a means of introduction, to build rapport and demonstrate authenticity, when first building relationships with service users. We have to use these tools responsibly and maintain professional boundaries by only providing basic or appropriate information about ourselves.

If you looked at your patients’ care plans and removed identifying information, would you recognise any of them? I believe one-page person profiles would allow you to detect individuals with ease. They may not be suitable for everyone, but there is potential for use with children, people who have learning disabilities, long-term conditions or mental health problems. They allow nurses to deliver a collaborative person-centred patient experience that reduces people’s passive participation and promotes self-management. For me, the profiles humanise the healthcare experience that allows professionals and patients to know each other.

Helen Croft is a newly qualified nurse working in specialist rehabilitation services at Derbyshire Healthcare Foundation Trust

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