Title of ArticleImplementing a pan-European Person-centred Curriculum Framework: The need for a strategic whole systems approach
Type of ArticleCommentary
Author/sCharlotte McArdle and Marie-Louise Luiking
ReferenceVolume 12, Special Issue, Article 5
Date of PublicationJuly 2022

We are delighted to write this commentary on the Erasmus+ project focusing on the development of a pan-European Person-centred Healthcare Curriculum Framework – a project we have had the pleasure of contributing to as Advisory Group members over the past three years. We believe person-centred practice is a complex construct that requires whole-system thinking, strategic leadership and culture development. Partnership working between healthcare organisations and higher education providers is pivotal to the delivery and anchoring of person-centredness as the bedrock of excellence.

The recovery of healthcare services affected by the Covid-19 pandemic provides both opportunities and challenges for the successful implementation of a person-centred healthcare curriculum. There is no doubt that healthcare systems need to change and adapt to new situations and developments in human societies, a process the World Health Organization equates with achieving sustainability. The WHO proposes that a sustainable healthcare system is one that:

‘Improves, maintains or restores health, while minimising negative impacts on the environment and leveraging opportunities to restore and improve it, to the benefit of the health and wellbeing of current and future generations’ (WHO, 2017, p 3).

This indicates that healthcare systems need to adapt to provide what is necessary, but also reflect what is wanted by the people they serve. While this presents an opportunity for real system change, a key challenge is the worldwide shortage in the nursing workforce; the WHO’s (2021) Global Strategic Directions for Nursing and Midwifery (2021–2025) puts this shortage at 5.9 million nurses. In addition, the current health and care workforce is still dealing with the impact of Covid in terms of the emotional and physical burden. To promote the emotional wellbeing of staff, organisations require a long-term plan to deliver the practical help and support needed to prevent further increases in vacancy levels. Person-centredness is predicated on each of us ‘knowing ourselves’ and the beliefs and values that shape our practice, including how we as leaders relate to and care for other people. The impact of this on the development of a pan-European Person-centred Curriculum Framework is most notable in practice, where many nurses may be working in unstable environments providing task-focused care to ‘get the work done’. Such environments can prevent clinical teams from engaging with people and their loved ones in a way that puts them at the centre of their care. This task-focused approach does not support or create the conditions for development of healthful cultures where everyone can flourish. Indeed, it may result in the future workforce not experiencing how person-centredness can be integrated into everyday practices through the learning they experience in programmes of study.

This article by Charlotte McArdle and Marie-Louise Luiking is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 License.

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