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Close-up of a cup of tea being given to an elderly man

Case study

Person-centred care means thinking about what is important to a person, what is important for them, and placing their needs at the centre of everything you do.

Important to – describes the things that make us feel good and add to your sense of well-being.

Important for – describes the factors we need to stay alive and healthy.

Read this case study and think about how the social care worker could work in a person-centred way.

The story of Mr S

Mr S is 89 and lives alone. He has a care worker calling twice a day to help with day-to-day tasks. Mr S has provided the following information about himself.

Examples of factors that are important TO Mr S are:

  • I like to remember the old days and to talk about when I worked in a munitions factory.
  • I like my tea to be made in a china mug and to be strong with two sugars.
  • I like to feel clean and comfortable, but I hate having a shower.
  • I like my carers to be cheerful and have a smile on their face and I hate to be nagged.

Examples of factors that important FOR Mr S are:

  • I need to be reminded to take my medication as prescribed. The tablets are provided by the chemist in a medication pack.
  • I need to be reminded to eat the food prepared for me.
  • I need to be reminded to change my clothes and to leave them out for my carers to wash.

Great social care workers will balance important To and important For. The support plan for Mr S looks something like the words below. It is written as if Mr S is speaking as a way of reminding the care worker to be person-centred.

  • I need you to allow time to talk about the things that interest me, even if you’ve heard the same story many times before. You can listen to me while you’re doing other things, but you need to nod and show me that you are listening. When you arrive at my home you need to look as if you are pleased to see me, and be cheerful.
  • You need to know which mug I like best and how to make my tea. You can remind me to drink it and to eat whatever food you have prepared. I may give a grumpy reply, but you should still remind me.
  • I hate showers so don’t offer one. I will wash or bathe if reminded. You could take this opportunity to ask me if I would like to change my clothes, and the old ones could be put out for the wash. I may give a sharp reply, but I still need reminding.
  • I need a gentle reminder to take my medication. You can check my dispensing pack to see if I have taken the right ones at the right time.

Think about how this care plan might help the care worker to be person-centred.

What is important to you?

  • Why do you think social care workers should balance important To and important For?
  • Why not try writing your own important To and important For support plan?

If you choose to share your work in the Comments remember not to include anything that should remain confidential.

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This article is from the free online course:

Step into Social Care

City & Guilds Group