Kimberly Breeden, MS, OTR, Coach, Instructor, Founding Partner

Occupational Therapy and Person-Centered Care

photo of an older woman sitting at table with a younger woman in a white lab coat
Recently I became aware of the fact that October is Person-Centered Care Awareness Month. This excited me because over the last 10 years I have seen more and more literature demonstrating the benefits of person-centered, patient-centered or client-centered care. The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society states that person-centered care "means that individuals’ values and preferences are elicited and, once expressed, guide all aspects of their health care, supporting their realistic health and life goals. Person-centered care is achieved through a dynamic relationship among individuals, others who are important to them, and all relevant providers. This collaboration informs decision-making to the extent that the individual desires.” (2015, p. 16). My interest in person-centered care began when I was working with individuals with acute and chronic pain. Many of the guidelines for treating pain emphasize the need for client-centered care and this challenged me to find ways to demonstrate that my interventions were person-centered. 

I initially felt that most occupational therapy practitioners could say that we provide person-centered care because we focus on the client from a holistic approach. As I learned more about it, I had to recognize that not all OT interventions meet this criteria. In healthcare, we often use treatment protocols that are specific to a diagnosis or a condition. So I began to look for interventions that would not only ensure that I provided client-centered care during the session, but were also recognized by outside audiences such as researchers, payers, and other healthcare works as being client-centered.
I began to utilize coaching as a client-centered intervention with amazing results. Coaching not only helped me to ensure that my services were focused on the individual, but it also helped improve client engagement and satisfaction with my services. I was surprised at how many individuals who were labeled as “non-compliant” by other practitioners responded to coaching strategies. I now work in home health, and I use some form of coaching in every session including my evaluations. Since I began using coaching I feel that I seldom have individuals who refuse OT services. I definitely have a lot more to learn about coaching and it will take some time to master my skills, but the impact it has on my client outcomes has made it an endeavor worth pursuing.  

I invite you to learn more about coaching in our course
“Coaching: An Introduction for the Everyday Practitioner”.  

American Geriatrics Society Expert Panel on Person-Centered Care. (2016). Person-Centered Care: A Definition and Essential Elements. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. ;64(1):15-18. DOI: 10.1111/jgs.13866.

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Coaching: An Introduction for the Everyday Practitioner

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