ASSIGNMENT. Joakim Öhlén, who will soon become director of the Center for Person-Centered Care (GPCC) at the University of Gothenburg, has been involved in GPCC’s work since it began. He specializes in palliative care and considers ethics and interaction as success factors for person-centered care and GPCC.
Joakim Öhlén becomes the director of the Center for Person-Centered Care (GPCC) at the University of Gothenburg on April 1. Öhlén has served as a researcher and head of research at GPCC since it began in 2010 and had already been involved in the planning and application for SFO (Strategic Research Area) funds that resulted in formation of the center. He is a professor of nursing and a registered nurse with a PhD in health care education. He has also been named an Excellent Teacher at the University of Gothenburg and has a joint appointment with the Palliative Center, Sahlgrenska University Hospital.
“It is great to be entrusted with continuing the work of the center, based on the success it has had,” says Joakim Öhlén. “I was privileged to head the Palliative Research Center in Stockholm for five years. I bring that experience with me, but there are striking differences from GPCC, a center at a large university with several faculties and many researchers involved in supporting the center.”
He believes it is important to both manage and build on what has been achieved as GPCC continues to be developed. Further intervention studies, including process evaluations, are needed to gain additional knowledge about how person-centered care can be implemented and promoted in different health care contexts and at different levels of decision-making. The center has just undergone a half-time evaluation as part of the University of Gothenburg’s requirements for the center and received a very positive evaluation by the external reviewers, who also made constructive proposals for further strengthening research.
“I have specialized in palliative care, where a person-centered approach has been the basis and starting point in development of hospice care. But at the same time, few tools or strategies have existed to ensure that health care actually centers on patients and those close to them. That is what I consider significant in the developments that have occurred at GPCC. In particular, I believe we have been successful in explicitly using ethics, combined with well-designed studies, as a starting point,” says Öhlén.
Collaboration: the key to developing the best care
“There is currently significant interest in a person-centered approach within health care and medical services. Compared with traditional health care, person-centered care represents a radically different principle for implementing and organizing care, without claiming to resolve all health care challenges. Region Västra Götaland is introducing a people-centered approach. We collaborate with organizations such as Region Dalarna, which is doing that as well. This creates special opportunities for collaborative projects between health care and academia. GPCC has a person council that guarantees that patients and those close to them participate in the operation, and we can develop that further. Together we can increase knowledge about person-centered care and how this knowledge can be used for patients, those close to them, staff, operations and, yes, the community, because health care is in the best interests of everyone.”
TEXT: JEANETTE TENGGREN DURKAN
PHOTO: ELIN LINDSTRÖM CLAESSEN