Measuring Person-Centered Caregiving

Person-centered care has become the dominant model for dementia care in the US and UK. This model emphasizes that older adults who are receiving care should be viewed as social beings in a relationship. More concretely, this involves recognizing the personality, values and individual needs of the care recipient, and understanding their behavior through this lens.  Within this framework, so-called resistive behaviors, such as withdrawal or aggressive behaviors toward caregivers, are framed as a sign of individual needs.

Despite the growing emphasis on person-centeredness, there has been relatively little done to formally measure the person-centeredness of caregivers. Researchers at Wichita State University and the University of Kansas recently published a study (Lann-Wolcott et al 2011) to validate two measures of person-centered caregiving, and to determine whether person-centeredness would reduce resistive behaviors on the part of individuals with dementia. One of these, the Person-Centered Behavior Inventory (PCBI) measures the extent to which the caregiver performed a set of targeted person-centered behaviors. The other measure, the Global Behavior Scale (GBS), does not count specific behaviors but is a more general assessment of the manner in which care is delivered. Further, the study explored a few other questions about the instruments– for example, whether different kinds of patients responded differently to person-centered care, and whether there was an effect of caregiver age.

While the PCBI and GBS correlated with one another, and were supported by other measures of validity, only the GBS negatively correlated with residents’ resistance to care. This suggested that global measures of behavior may be more useful in assessing the person-centeredness of care than strictly behavioral assessments. The authors state that their findings not only validate these scales and provide empirical support for the person-centered and needs-based models, but point to ways that careworkers can be trained in person-centered care.


Article cited:

Lann-Wolcott H, Medvene LJ, Williams K, “Measuring the Person-Centeredness of Caregivers Working With Nursing Home Residents With Dementia.” Behavior Therapy 42: 89-99.

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