Home Medical Services Family-centered care: what is it, and how does it work?

Family-centered care: what is it, and how does it work?

by Juan D. Vanpelt

Family-centered care: what is it, and how does it work? 2

Family-centered care is a philosophy and approach in healthcare that involves close cooperation between providers and families in decision-making. It produces mutually beneficial relationships between healthcare providers, patients and patients’ families, which translates to better outcomes for patients across all healthcare settings.

Learning more about this type of healthcare can help you make your approach to nursing more family oriented, which can lead to more effective healthcare planning, delivery and evaluation. Below, we outline what family-centered care is and explore its core components.

What is family-centered care?

Family-centered care is an approach to healthcare used primarily in pediatrics that seeks to improve outcomes, respect family values, reduce stress, improve communication, and reduce conflicts and lawsuits. It emphasizes constant collaboration between healthcare providers and the families of patients to deliver the best possible standards of care. It takes into account how families define excellent healthcare and seeks to align practices with these definitions as best as possible. Here are some objectives of family-centered care:

  • Acknowledging the importance of families and their support in delivering healthcare.
  • Helping patients and families participate in care decisions.
  • Respecting diverse cultural traditions and values.
  • Emphasizing the importance of community-based care.
  • Promoting a personalized approach.
  • Facilitating peer-to-peer support.
  • Supporting children as they become adults.
  • Developing family-centered practices and policies.

The core principles of family-centered care

Family-centered care is based on several core concepts that inform specific policies and approaches to healthcare. Here are the main principles of this kind of care.


Family-centered care aims to respect the unique values and traditions of patients and their families, which means taking their perspectives and choices into account when making decisions. The planning and delivery of care factors in the patient’s family background in order to provide a better experience for patients.


Family nurses, such as those who have completed a DNP-FNP online program, work directly with families in the planning and delivery of healthcare. These courses equip nurses with the highest level of proficiency in family practice, enabling them to influence quality improvements. Collaboration also occurs between healthcare leaders, policymakers, patients and families, where they seek to improve on facility designs, research and program development, besides healthcare delivery.


Participation means inviting families to participate at the level they choose. This means encouraging and supporting them to get involved with the planning, delivery and evaluation of healthcare. They also participate in various other areas, such as those mentioned above.

Sharing information

Healthcare professionals communicate all relevant and useful information to families so that they are able to make informed decisions. Sending families unbiased, accurate and up-to-date information enables them to participate in the various aspects of healthcare delivery, which produces outcomes that align closely with their expectations.

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