What is person-centered care?

There are many definitions of person-centered healthcare, but the core principles are often the same. This approach respects the client’s preferences and values, involves family and friends, reinforces shared decision-making and goal setting, and prioritizes the free-flow of information.


Together with our global partners in the Person-Centered Hearing Network, we developed this definition:

"Person-centered care (PCC) ensures that people are equal and active partners in the management of their hearing difficulties. Designed around the individual, PCC focuses on and is respectful of people’s needs and preferences, involves family and other communication partners, and includes shared decision-making and goal-setting."

The six elements

The six elements we consider essential to delivering person-centered care in an audiological environment are:

Active listening

Active or attentive listening can be described as a way of listening and responding to another person that improves mutual understanding. It isn’t about passively sitting and doing nothing, but rather about being present psychologically, socially, and emotionally.

Open-ended questions and reflective conversations

Open-ended communication is designed to introduce an area of inquiry without unduly shaping or focusing the content of the response. It directs the client to a specific area but allows them more discretion in their answer, suggesting that elaboration is both appropriate and welcome.


Empathy is often defined as the ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling.

Involvement of family and friends

The involvement of family and friends in the treatment of any condition is considered one of the cornerstones of person-centered practice. In hearing care, it has the potential to motivate clients’ help-seeking behavior and ultimately the success of the rehabilitation process. Very often clients mention that they have been encouraged by their partner/spouse to make the first appointment.

Shared goal-setting and decision-making

This is a process in which clients, when they reach a decision crossroads in their healthcare, can review all the treatment options available to them and participate actively with their healthcare professional in making that decision.

Understanding of individual preferences

This can be thought of as new information to add to the traditional biomedical case history. It is about finding out what matters to the individual person – exploring their beliefs, ideas, concerns, expectations, feelings, and the effects of their hearing loss on their life. 

Cultural competence

Many of the elements of person-centered care complement the development of cultural competence and can mitigate the risk of cultural awareness feeding stereotypes. But cultural competence is also essential to be truly person-centered. After all, to provide care focused on the individual requires the ability to effectively work cross-culturally. In fact, we could consider cultural competence an honorary element of person-centered care; the 7th element, if you will. Read more about Cultural competence below.

Find out more

Benefits of PCC

Read about how person-centered care is good for clients, clinicians, and business.

Cultural competence

Why is cultural competence crucial in today's hearing care and what steps can you take to improve yours?

Online learning

Take our free courses on the six elements of person-centered care in the Ida Learning Hall.

PCC Knowledge Bank

Browse this database of studies about person-centered care in hearing care and healthcare at large.

Recommended reading

Links to useful descriptions of PCC, advice on implementing it, and thoughts on PCC from people with hearing loss.