Whole person care: Why it matters

When people are sick, we usually focus on their medical care. But what about their “personal” care? Are they getting the emotional support they need? Does their medical care reflect their spiritual and cultural beliefs? 

There is a personal side to health care, but it often gets overlooked. That means people aren’t getting the best care possible. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. The solution is whole person care. This is health care based on medical needs – and personal values.

Whole person care means that:

  • Patients are involved in decisions about their care
  • Families receive help supporting loved ones who are ill
  • Caregivers receive help coping with the strains of caregiving

What do you want?

Whole person care is, at its core, a goal-aligned, relationship-based approach to caregiving. By encouraging clinicians to know their patients as whole persons, health care professionals can go beyond treating patients’ physical condition to also devote attention to patients’ emotional, social and spiritual well-being. This approach benefits people of every age and stage of life. It is particularly valuable when people are living with serious medical conditions. Whole person care makes it natural for caregivers to understand each patient’s values, preferences and priorities. The result is highly personalized care.

Why whole person care matters

In 2015, Providence Health & Services launched a whole person care initiative at two pilot site hospitals in the Los Angeles area. The goal: change healthcare culture and make whole person care the new normal across the Providence organization and the nation.

Hear Me Now

Storytelling and listening are keys to whole person care. Hear Me Now is a partnership with the Institute for Human Caring and StoryCorps to record interviews with patients, families and caregivers.

Why you need an Advance Directive

Advance directives allow you to appoint a person to represent your health care wishes if you are unable to speak for yourself. Watch a video to learn more about the purpose and value of advance directives.

For Health Care Professionals

At the Institute for Human Caring, we offer physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains and others advanced training and support in providing whole person care.

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