What is Family-Centred Practice?

16 Nov, 2020

Family-Centred Practice is when the client is not just the adult or child with the disability but encompasses their family. This involves working in collaboration with the family, taking into consideration their unique values, goals and circumstances to achieve better health and wellbeing outcomes for the whole family.

Allied Health Professionals only spend a limited time with the person with the disability compared to their family making it important for the family to be actively involved in their family members therapy to continue therapy/exercises outside of sessions to achieve their goals more quickly. Family-Centred Practice ensures that services are individualised, flexible, culturally appropriate and relevant for each family.

Family-centred care

What are some benefits of Family-Centred Practice?

Family-Centred Practice supports family capacity to play a key role in their loved one’s care, development and therapy and make informed decisions. It also improves the development and achievement of goals as families build on learning and exercises completed during therapy sessions outside of sessions.  As therapy and exercises are adapted to suit the family’s needs, abilities and lifestyle, it is easier for the strategies to be implemented.

This practice also increases positive feelings about receiving therapy and families feeling more positive and competent. Family-Centred Practice supports better psychological adjustment and wellbeing as families are encouraged to take more responsibility for managing care and informed decision making in partnerships with health professionals and create a feeling of empowerment for the family and makes them feel they are being listened to and considered.

How might an Allied Health Professional demonstrate Family-Centred Practice?

  • Get to know all immediate family members
  • Ask family about their goals, interests, culture and daily routines
  • Ask family including siblings to join in the session
  • Providing educational handouts/exercise programs
  • Demonstrating exercises and strategies
  • Considering appointment times that suit the family
  • Work with family availability and time to incorporate strategies to assist in completing exercises
  • Letting family know what they can do outside of sessions

What can families do to help facilitate?

  • Be present or available during all or at least part of the session
  • Set time outside of sessions to practice strategies and exercises
  • Ask what the family can do outside of sessions
  • Be open to clear communication and collaboration with Allied Health Professionals
  • Ask questions or for further clarification and information if do not understand something or want to know more about the strategies the health professional is using

Through encompassing Family-Centred Practice, therapy can be adjusted to suit the individual needs of the family to achieve the best outcomes for the whole family. Please call 1300 122 884 and schedule an initial consultation with one of our experienced Occupational Therapists.

Written by Courtney Cotterill

Since graduating with a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy in 2015 from James Cook University in Townsville Courtney has worked in aged care and paediatric settings. Since joining the Generation Physiotherapy team in 2018 Courtney has been able to draw upon her previous experience to provide services across a wide range of age groups.

Courtney is also a level 1 yoga instructor and enjoys being able to incorporate elements yoga into her practice, particularly with her paediatric caseload. Courtney strives to enable her clients to maintain their independence and to participate in the activities that are meaningful to them.


Resources for further information

Philosophy and Key Elements of Family-Centred Practice
How Does Family-Centred Service Make a Difference
Victorian Early Years Learning and Developmental Framework

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