Person-centred approach

Key points

  • Adoption of a person-centred approach is crucial in long-term care for older adults. It emphasises on values such as mutual respect, trust, understanding the client's priorities, and preserving personal identity.
  • Implementing a person-centred approach allows older adults to feel ‘in control’, which is beneficial for both mental and physical wellbeing.
  • It promotes older adult’s engagement to prescribed interventions, decreasing loneliness and social isolation.

The key to effective long-term care for older adults is embracing a person-centred approach, grounded in foundational values like mutual respect, trust, understanding the client's priorities, and preserving personal identity. [1-4] Care professionals and providers can implement this approach by recognising and honouring the autonomy of older adults. [1, 2] For instance, facilitating active participation in decision-making processes regarding treatments and interventions is a tangible expression of this approach. [2, 5] The significance of a person-centred approach becomes particularly pronounced for older adults, who, due to the gradual decline in physical and cognitive abilities, are more vulnerable to neglect. [2]

A person-centred approach was identified as potential solution for addressing the challenges of social isolation and loneliness among older adults. [6, 7] Implementing a person-centred approach can be beneficial as it increases an older adult’s motivation, self-empowerment, and confidence to take control of their experiences of social isolation and loneliness. [8, 9] In turn, it facilitates active and healthy aging and promotes independence among older adults. [7]

This evidence theme on person-centred approach is a summary of one of the key topics identified by a scoping review of the social isolation research. If you need more specific or comprehensive information on this topic, try using our PubMed searches provided below.

We found five reviews that described examples of person-centred approach among older adults. [8-12]  Knowing and understanding the personal needs and preferences of older adults are essential in designing and tailoring interventions that may help reduce social isolation. One review reported that older adults were allowed to choose and participate in interventions that aligned with their needs and preferences. [8] This approach allowed them to cope with being socially isolated, which reciprocated to improved mental and physical wellbeing. It made them feel in control of the decision-making process. [8] Another review provided information about positive outcomes including decreased boredom, loneliness, and isolation among older adults in support of a person-centred approach – no specific details on the use of person-centred approach were provided. [12]

Fostering a person-centred approach also increased engagement with the prescribed intervention by considering health-related factors. [9, 10] Being able to manage health issues such incontinence promotes confidence and engagement in social activities, which reduces social isolation. [9, 10]

This evidence theme has been informed by the results of a scoping review intended to map the published research in this area. Our findings reflect the current state of the evidence which we note is limited in breadth and quality.

  • Get to know the needs and preferences of older people and suggest interventions that suit their interest and preferences.
  • Assess the older adult’s engagement with prescribed interventions and provide alternative interventions where needed.
  • Train staff members, including healthcare professionals and caregivers on the importance and application of person-centred approach.
  • Integrate a feedback system to allow continuous assessment of the older adult's engagement with prescribed interventions.
  1. Ebrahimi Z, Patel H, Wijk H, Ekman I, Olaya-Contreras P. A systematic review on implementation of person-centered care interventions for older people in out-of-hospital settings. Geriatric Nursing. 2021;42(1):213-224.  
  2. Lachs MS, Pillemer K. Elder abuse. The Lancet. 2004;364(9441):1263-1272.  
  3. Lämås K, Bölenius K, Sandman P-O, Lindkvist M, Edvardsson D. Effects of a person-centred and health-promoting intervention in home care services–a non-randomized controlled trial. BMC geriatrics. 2021;21(1):1-13.  
  4. Healthcare ACoSaQi. Person-centred care 2023 [cited 2023 8 December]. Available from:,Overview,trust%20and%20establishing%20mutual%20respect.  
  5. Nilsen ER, Hollister B, Söderhamn U, Dale B. What matters to older adults? Exploring person‐centred care during and after transitions between hospital and home. Journal of Clinical Nursing. 2022;31(5-6):569-581.  
  6. Inoue M, Hasegawa M, Tompkins C, Donnelly C. Person-centered care to decrease loneliness and social isolation in long-term care settings. Innovation in Aging. 2019;3(Suppl 1):S197.  
  7. National Academies of Sciences E, Medicine. Social isolation and loneliness in older adults: Opportunities for the health care system: National Academies Press; 2020.  
  8. Manjunath J, Manoj N, Alchalabi T. Interventions against social isolation of older adults: A systematic review of existing literature and interventions. Geriatrics (Basel, Switzerland). 2021;6(3). doi:  
  9. Townsend BG, Chen JT, Wuthrich VM. Barriers and facilitators to social participation in older adults: A systematic literature review. Clin Gerontol. 2021;44(4):359-380. doi: 10.1080/07317115.2020.1863890.  
  10. Ludlow K, Mumford V, Makeham M, Braithwaite J, Greenfield D. The effects of hearing loss on person-centred care in residential aged care: A narrative review. Geriatric nursing (New York, NY). 2018;39(3):296-302. doi:  
  11. Thompson C, Halcomb E, Masso M. The contribution of primary care practitioners to interventions reducing loneliness and social isolation in older people-an integrative review. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences. 2023. doi:  
  12. Zhang Y, Leuk JS, Teo WP. Domains, feasibility, effectiveness, cost, and acceptability of telehealth in aging care: Scoping review of systematic reviews. JMIR Aging. 2023;6:e40460. doi: 10.2196/40460.  
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