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Person-centred communication in long-term care with older people: a scoping review

Daniel Lombard (School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK)

Journal of Integrated Care

ISSN: 1476-9018

Article publication date: 29 April 2021

Issue publication date: 19 July 2021




Interpersonal skills are increasingly important tools in long-term care with older people, especially against the backdrop of loneliness affecting older people and expectations for a person-centred, joined-up approach. However, the term is used as a composite and its definition lacks shape and focus. In existing literature, participants appear to be selected on the basis of specific illnesses rather than age. Better understanding of the features of everyday communication processes associated with person-centred care can lead to improvements in policy and practice.


A scoping review examined communication features associated with person-centred care for older adults. This identified the extent and nature of literature. Several databases were searched; after screening and hand-searching, 31 were included. Findings were analysed for patterns and contradictions, against the objectives of person-centred and integrated care.


Emotional intelligence and the ability to employ various communication styles are crucial skills of person-centred communication. Such approaches can have positive effects on the well-being of older people.

Research limitations/implications

Some studies' validity was weakened by methodological designs being founded on value judgements.

Practical implications

Using personalised greetings alongside verbal and non-verbal prompts to keep residents emotionally connected during personal care is considered good practice. Stimulating feedback from people using services and their relatives is important.


The role of communication is highlighted in many professional guidance documents on person-centred and integrated care, but the process of implementation is decentralised to individual employers and workers. This paper draws on the findings of contemporary literature, grounded in naturalistic data, with implications for practice and policy.



With thanks to Dr Jon Symonds and Prof Karen West for their diligent feedback on the scope and direction of the article. This study was funded by a PhD studentship grant from the Economic and Social Research Council.


Lombard, D. (2021), "Person-centred communication in long-term care with older people: a scoping review", Journal of Integrated Care, Vol. 29 No. 3, pp. 306-333.



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