Humanisation of healthcare

We are all human. We have to deal with limitations and vulnerabilities in life. We don’t fundamentally find our lives in unrelated compartments. Everything is connected with each other, in one way or the other. As a human we can be a sister, a wife, a daughter, an employee, a friend and so on. So when we get ill, it will not only affect our dysfunctional organ, but also our body, our mind and our lifeworld.

Todres et al (2007) talked about lifeworld- led care. The conceptualisation of lifeworld-led care includes an articulation of three dimensions: a philosophy of the person, a view of well-being and not just illness, and a philosophy of care that is consistent with this, according to Todres et al (2008).

As a humanist they inspire me to search to the meaning and application of this philosophy. Because one of the forms of humanization is ‘insiderness”. Understanding the ‘insider’ is on the things I am trying to achieve as a Chief Listening Officer in healthcare.

Todres et al developed a theoretical framework that explores eight central aspects of what it is to be human in healthcare:

Physicians and nurses

1. must never make those we care for feel like objects.

2. need to offer and enable choice and freedom for patients.

3. need to get to know patients and their contexts to build trusting relationships and discover what is important to them

4. need to offer support to those we care for and the opportunity to build relationships

5. need to explain what is happening and ensure that patients and relatives understand fully their situation in their context.

6. patients are often in unfamiliar situations and their life has been interrupted. We need to acknowledge and value their concerns and help them to adapt.

7. healthcare environments can be frightening and depressing; we need to do the best we can to mitigate this and reduce the sense of dislocation.

8. everyone is unique and valuable and we need to treat everyone with respect and dignity

Focusing care on what is important to individuals as human beings enables care professionals to understand and more fully appreciate the individual’s personal experience of ill health so they can better support them. Doing so, could ensure a dignified and respectful approach to care for the human being who has an illness.

We are always more than the sum of the parts.


  • ‘The humanisation of healthcare’ by Todres et al (2009)
  • ‘Caring for insiderness’ by Todres et al (2014)
  • Lifeworld-led healthcare is more than patient-led care: an existential view of well-being by Dahlberg et al (2008)
  • Handbook of phenomenology and medicine by Toombs (2002)
  • NHS ‘Five Year Forward View’

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