To build strong, resilient health systems, we need a workforce that can support progress toward universal health coverage by delivering person-centered services. It is crucial to acknowledge that health workers are people too, and their needs must be understood and met if they are to meet client needs.
At JSI, we consider the health workforce environment and development a critical domain of person-centered care (PCC). Through this domain, health system leadership incentivizes staff safety, physical and mental wellness, and development—strengthening their motivation and ability to provide PCC.
Here are three ways that investing in PCC strengthens and supports our health workforce:
- Increases job satisfaction. PCC requires health workers to be organized in teams and supported with fair wages, a suitable work environment, and relevant incentives. The work environment must support health workers’ ability to communicate, receive supportive supervision, and develop positive interpersonal relationships. Essential elements of PCC, such as shared decision making and the general delivery of PCC, can enhance providers’ reputation and increase health worker morale and productivity, making them more satisfied with their job.
- Improves motivation and skills. Delivering high-quality PCC requires investments in new ways of working, including through educational, regulatory, financial, personal, and professional interventions. Examples are developing partnerships with academic and training institutions for new curricula and implementation research, and expanding pre- and in-service training programs on effective communication and respectful care. Professional development opportunities and supportive supervision that uses coaching and mentorship are strong motivators for the health workforce. Investing in digital solutions can help health workers at all levels improve skills and service delivery.
- Boosts retention. PCC investments that increase job satisfaction and motivation support skill development and improve recruitment and retention of qualified health workers. Health worker retention is important in all contexts, especially low- and middle-income countries, where high turnover rates devastate health systems. Investments in teams that are guided by clear roles and expectations, support constructive feedback, and promote task shifting, can improve resource allocation, balance workloads, and reduce burnout.
PCC is a reflection of health workers who are able to do their jobs well. This requires investing in the development of work processes and guidelines and ensuring supplies and equipment. It also requires that health workers understand and address their own universe of influences, from the sociocultural environment they live and work in to their personal values, preferences, and experience.
Enabling health workers to do their jobs well facilitates positive, person-centered service experiences. As a global community, we must ensure that health workers have the resources and support that they need to deliver high-quality care, and that involves investing in systems that are equipped to deliver PCC.
By Nicole Castle, Jessica Posner, and Melinda McKay