What is Person-Centered Care? An Interview by

What is Person-Centered Care? An Interview by

Steve Moran’s interview with me for his blog,, originally appeared on January 12, 2014.

I met Denise Scott in a very unique way.  I was on the floor of the trade show at LeadingAge in Denver and felt someone slug me in the shoulder, not hard, but in that kind of friendly, “I haven’t seen you in a long time,” way.  I was puzzled and she embarrassed to discover I was not who she thought I was.  The next evening I was having dinner and discovered she was having dinner at the next table.  A friendship was born.

Denise is passionate about seniors and publishes a great blog.  She is dedicated to helping senior living providers create better lives for their residents.

Tell me about Denise. Who are you? What do you do? What you are passionate about?

My passion is helping long-term care leaders step back from the day-to-day firefighting so they can focus on the big picture and help direct-care staff step forward and really engage in their work. That creates a more meaningful work environment, which leads to a more meaningful living environment.

I spent 14 years as an administrator and executive director, which enables me to understand the realities of operating a long-term care community. I know firsthand that preparing a team to embrace change isn’t easy, but it’s necessary. There will always be a new challenge to respond to. Rising acuity, ACOs, new regulations…instead of responding to each one separately, organizations need to establish a culture that truly embraces change.

I know you used to work as a skilled nursing administrator, but you don’t anymore. Why did you shift your role within the long-term care community?

I wanted to help organizations that were drawn to doing “their own thing,” not following a certain model of person-centered care.  I know that following a certain model works well for some organizations, but for many it’s like wearing clothes from someone else’s closet…they don’t quite fit!

I’d been thinking about helping these places that wanted to be unique when a former client said, “I heard you were thinking about starting your own business. If you do, I’ll be your first customer!” It’s been full-speed ahead ever since.

I know you’re really passionate about person-centered care/culture change, so maybe we can start with the basics:

What is person-centered care?

I like the simple definition that Advancing Excellence uses: “Person-centered care promotes choice, purpose and meaning in daily life.”

Here’s the thing, though: It’s not just about residents; it’s about staff too. That’s why I like the Steve Moran version you shared with me at the Pioneer Network: “Person-centered care really is about staff-centered care.”

What is culture change?

Culture change is the movement away from being an institution. It is changing our thoughts, our words, our actions, and our environments to ones that support individuals.

Are they just different names for the same thing, or are they really different?

Many people use them interchangeably. I see culture change as a means towards reaching person-centered care, but honestly, I don’t really care what you call it…just do it!
Too many people say they are “doing” culture change.  I often see mission statements on community walls that say something like, “Our mission is to enrich and improve our residents’ lives”…then staff tells you they’re dragging residents out of bed at 5 AM for breakfast. Something’s not adding up!

Again – don’t worry about what to call it. Just do it!


Sign up today to know when we release a new article


Ultimate Recruitment: 65 Ways for Attracting, Onboarding & Keeping the Best

Empower your workforce with 65 tips on attracting, onboarding, and retaining the best talent at your organization. Simply enter your email address and name to claim your free download.