Tenacious assumptions of person-centred care? Exploring tensions and variations in practice.
In recent decades, the ‘tenacious assumptions’ of biomedicine regarding the neutrality and universality of its knowledge claims have been significantly challenged by the growth of new collaborative and patient-focused models of Healthcare delivery. In this article, we discuss and critically reflect upon one such alternative Healthcare model developed at the University of Gothenburg Centre for Person-Centred Care in Sweden. This centre uses three clinical routines of narrative, partnership and documentation to provide Healthcare to people recognized as unique individuals rather than patients. Person-centred care in Gothenburg and more broadly is based on the assumption that a person is independently capable of reasoning and verbal expression and willing to provide clear and genuine narratives and cooperate with Healthcare professionals. However, we argue that by emphasizing individual capabilities of reasoning and verbal expression, an unnecessarily limited conception of personhood risks being imposed on these routines. Drawing upon semi-structured interviews with researchers in three very different Gothenburg Centre for Person-Centred Care research projects – about healthy ageing in migrant communities, neurogenic communication disorders, and psychosis – we highlight that how persons are recognized as unique and capable varies significantly in practice across different Healthcare settings. Thus, we assert that person-centred care’s own potentially tenacious assumptions about the attributes of personhood risk distracting attention away from the variety of creative ways that professionals and persons promisingly find for translating the ideal of person-centred care into practice.