Person- and Family-Centered Care

What is Person- and Family-Centered Care?

Person- and family-centered care is a collaborative approach to the planning, delivery, and evaluation of clinical services. It is grounded in the mutually beneficial partnership among individuals served, families, and providers. Each party is equally important in the relationship, and each party respects the knowledge, skills, and experiences that others have to share (Baas, 2012; Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care).

This approach to care is used across professionals (e.g., physicians, counselors, educators, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, and physical therapists). Although it may be referred to by different names (e.g., patient- and family-centered care), the emphasis is the same—working with the individual and family.

Who is the “Family”?

Family refers to two or more people who are related biologically, legally, or emotionally. A family consists of individuals who are most meaningful and supportive to the person served. Examples include blood relatives, adoptive parents, legal guardians, extended family, same-sex or opposite-sex partners, and friends.

The person—provided that they are developmentally mature and competent to do so—defines “family” and determines the degree of family involvement in their care. In the pediatric population, “family” is defined by the child’s parents or guardians.

Bass (2012); Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care

What is the Core of Person- and Family-Centered Care?

Core concepts of person- and family-centered care include the following:

  • Respect and dignity. Providers listen to and honor the perspectives and choices of the person and their family, and incorporate the knowledge, values, beliefs, and cultural backgrounds of the person and family members when planning and implementing services.
  • Information sharing. Providers communicate with the person and family, sharing complete and accurate information in ways that are useful and that allow the person and family members to fully participate in decision making.
  • Participation. The person and family are encouraged to participate in decision making at the level they choose.
  • Collaboration. The person and family are included on an institution-wide basis and collaborate in various ways and on various levels—for example, in policy and program development, implementation, and evaluation; professional education; and service delivery.

Based on core concepts described by Johnson et al. (2008).

What are the Benefits of Person- and Family-Centered Care?

The implementation of person- and family-centered care may require some initial time investment—for example, to modify treatment approaches, build relationships, and teach individuals and families the strategies they will need to actively participate in the service delivery process (Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care).

This initial time investment will result in many benefits, including

  • improved clinical decision making that is based on better information;
  • a greater understanding of the individual’s and family’s strengths and needs;
  • better follow-through when the treatment plan is developed collaboratively;
  • more effective communication leading to fewer misunderstandings; and
  • better outcomes and greater satisfaction with services (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2012).


American Academy of Pediatrics. (2012). Patient- and family-centered care and the pediatrician’s role. Pediatrics, 129, 394–404. Retrieved from

Baas, L. S. (2012). Patient- and family-centered care. Heart & Lung, 41, 534–535. Retrieved from

Johnson, B., Abraham, M., Conway, J., Simmons, L., Edgman-Levitan, S., Sodomka, P., . . . Ford, D. (2008). Partnering with patients and families to design a patient-and family-centered health care system: Recommendations and promising practices. Bethesda MD: Institute for Family-Centered Care and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Retrieved from


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