Person-centred care

Person-centred care is about being more involved in your care, and having health services designed around your needs.

Illustration of group of healthcare professionals around a patient

In recent years the NHS has started to change how it provides care for people with long-term conditions.

This new approach, called person-centred care, is about supporting people to make informed decisions about their care, personalised to their needs, not just treating a single condition. It helps them to have the confidence to manage their own health better. 

The BHF recognises the need to help patients live well with their heart and circulatory conditions, and that wellbeing means more than just the physical impact of a condition.

We recently funded a £1.5 million initiative to encourage the wider use of this approach in the NHS.

Learn more about the BHF programme

What is person-centred care?

Person-centred care is about giving you the information and confidence to take control of your long-term condition so you can make informed decisions about your care.

It also calls on the NHS to design healthcare services around your physical, mental and emotional needs, in a more joined-up way.

Traditionally, healthcare services like your local general practice or hospital were set up to provide care in single episodes, treating individual conditions at a time.

Since the NHS was established 70 years ago, we are now all living longer. Rates of long-term conditions such as diabetes and heart failure have risen dramatically. In fact, by 2025 it is estimated that around 9.1 million of us in the UK will be living with one or more serious long-term conditions – a million people more than in 2015.

Treating one-off episodes of care, often in hospital settings, no longer provides the all-round care and support that people with long-term conditions need to manage their health and wellbeing effectively.

Providing more joined-up care can avoid unnecessary hospital stays and improve wellbeing. It is also now widely recognised that people wish to be more involved in their care, and that services need to be better joined up to support them.

What is care and support planning?

Care and support planning is a new approach to care. It moves away from the traditional approach of a healthcare professional – like your nurse or GP – advising you on how to manage your health.

Instead, it champions a partnership where you and your healthcare professional contribute equally.

You bring your experience of living with your condition, or conditions. You are supported to focus on what is important to you. The healthcare professional brings their clinical expertise and experience. 

Together, you have a two-way conversation to review how things are going, share ideas and discuss goals, around both health and social care. 

What is the House of Care?

To help the healthcare system adopt care and support planning, a model has been developed. This explains to general practices and other healthcare providers what elements need to be in place to help that two-way conversation take place. Diagram showing structure of the house of care

This model is called the House of Care.

  • At the heart of the House is the two-way care and support planning conversation.
  • The left wall of the House represents you: an informed, engaged patient given the information you or your carer need to feel equipped to contribute to that two-way conversation. This might include fully explained test results, or reminders to think about your goals before an appointment.
  • The right wall represents a commitment by healthcare professionals to move from a medical focus to focus more on the patient as an individual. It also reflects the training they might need and sharing information to provide joined-up care.
  • The roof is the infrastructure that needs to be in place, such as computer systems for sharing patients’ health data and the administration needed to send out test result letters.
  • The foundation requires local healthcare planners to offer services that meet patients’ full health and social care needs. These will often be delivered by local health, social and community organisations. This is sometimes referred to as ‘social prescribing’.

What has the BHF done?

The BHF provided £1.5 million in funding to five sites in England and Scotland to provide this approach. Over three years, over 13,000 people went through care and support planning.

As a result, 41 general practices are today offering this new approach to care, in addition to areas already offering this service.

When we asked people what they thought of care and support planning, 75% said they were ‘better’ or ‘much better’ able to understand their condition.

Healthcare professionals said this way of working was better for them too, and reported higher levels of job satisfaction.

Learn more about the BHF programme in this animation, originally designed for healthcare professionals.

What can I do next?

If you’re a patient or a member of a patient group, ask your local general practice whether they would consider adopting care and support planning.

Help to spread the word about how this approach can deliver better, person-centred care.

You can also read our summary report about the BHF programme for more information.

Read the BHF report