Core Concepts

We now know why person-centred care is so important so let us have a look at some of its core concepts. Read on…

“You may be forgetful but we will not forget you. We will continue to support you to live the life you choose, right now and into the future.”

Three main principles:


Dignity, respect and compassion are at the centre of the person-centred approach to caring. Dignity in care can be defined as …

“The kind of care, in any setting, which supports and promotes, and does not undermine, a person’s self-respect regardless of any difference.” UK Government’s Dignity in Care Initiative, 2009

What is dignity?

All people have the right to be recognized for their inherent humanity and treated ethically. Dignity is a given. You just have it and no one can take it away.” (Cultures of Dignity, 2021).

What is respect?

Showing admiration for someone for what they have achieved and experienced in life.

Both of these explanations fit in well within the person-centred philosophy. Those with dementia can experience degrading attitudes as their dementia progresses. Their decreasing inability to do everyday activities such as coping with their general hygiene or managing their finances can put them in a position where others’ responses are less than kind. Their dignity is compromised and their life experiences and achievements can be ignored.

Some of the threats to respecting the dignity of a person are …

What is compassion?

“Compassion is that feeling we’ve all experienced when we know there is someone who really cares for us.” Tanaka, 2014

Have a look at this short video on compassion, dignity and respect in healthcare (4mins). While it is not dementia focused it is very relevant to our practice.

According to Crother et al. (2013) “compassion is a personal emotion … defined as the ability to understand the emotional state of another person ….. It .. urges one person to do something to alleviate or reduce the suffering of another.” 

Can you think of a time when you felt compassion towards someone with dementia? Write down what triggered it.


Personalising care thereby meeting not just their care needs but also their wants – taking their perspective/point of view at every opportunity. The PwD is given control over their life, activities and the care they receive.

It becomes a different relationship between the PwD and the HCWs as now they are in partnership with each other aiming towards the goal of health as far as possible. They share the decision making, the planning and the relationship grows stronger.


Helping to maintain their strengths and abilities and compensating only when necessary. Focusing on what they CAN do as opposed to what they CAN’T do making this a more positive approach to caring.

Now let’s move on and look briefly at some research that supports the benefits of the person-centred approach.

Culture of Dignity:

Photos by Michael Hagedorn –

Crother et. al., 2013: