Psychosocial support of a patient and their family is a responsibility all health care providers share. Supports are aimed at enhancing overall well-being for the patient and their family, strengthening their own skills and abilities, and using their own resources for overcoming challenges. Psychosocial support involves attending to the emotional, psychological, social, spiritual, practical needs and wishes of the individual within the context of their community of family, friends, neighbors and associations with others. Although psychosocial dimensions of patient care are increasingly taught to healthcare professionals, evidence suggests they are not reinforced or optimally implemented in clinical training, let alone actual practice. An ongoing psychosocial assessment is the most fundamental element of the PACE Model. The provision of psychological support for patients and families confronted with serious illness, injury, or surgery is one that is often overlooked and can even undermine the main focus of the treatment plan. Psychosocial care should be considered an integral and standardized part of care for patients and their families at all stages of the care plan.
A psychosocial assessment focuses on the significance and functioning of the patient in relationship to themselves, others and their environment. The assessment will ascertain how quality of life is defined and experienced by the patient. Ideally it will identify their goals, barriers to achieving those goals and strengths available to overcome and/or adapt in the presence of constant change.
Assessment serves the purpose of understanding the illness from the perspective of patients and families as well as articulating goals of care. A comprehensive assessment helps clarify and identify strengths, challenges, areas of support and overall functioning. It is the groundwork for planning interventions, addressing needs, assisting with informing decision-making, facilitating care planning and delivery as well as contributing towards team functioning.
The assessment may include patients and families’ competencies, interactions and environmental influences that could hinder one’s abilities to adapt. The assessment is not a diagnosis. The psychosocial assessment is an empowering and ongoing collaborative process of moment by moment interactions that begins upon first contact.