What is ‘good’ healthcare?

In almost 15 years of interviewing people all over the country about their experiences of health and illness for this website, we’ve heard lots of examples of good healthcare and sadly some examples of not so good healthcare. Much can be learnt about improving healthcare provision from listening to people’s experiences so we were really pleased to be commissioned to come up with a list of what makes up the core components of ‘good’ healthcare.

The method
We reviewed existing literature and looked back through our archive of over 2000 interviews (excerpts from which appear on this website) to see what people said had made, or could have made, their healthcare ‘good’ rather than just minimal or basic. We conducted a series of online and offline focus groups with people who have long-term conditions to discuss the components in detail.

The results
Each of the 8 good healthcare components are listed below with a link to video playlists (scrapbooks) of people sharing personal examples.

1. Having a friendly and caring attitude
– Health professionals are interested in me as a person.
– My health concerns are taken seriously.

2. Having some understanding of how my life is affected
– I am asked how my problem affects my work, my hobbies, and so on.
– Health professionals think about my family and not just me.

3. Letting me see the same health professional
– I see a health professional who I like and trust.
– I see a health professional who knows my medical history.

4. Guiding me through difficult conversations
– I am told bad news with kindness and honesty.
– I feel at ease to ask about embarrassing things.
– Health professionals help me to tell other people about my problem.

5. Taking time to answer my questions and explain things well
– Health professionals explain why I might have developed a problem.
– I am told what a treatment is supposed to do and what side effects it can have.
– I am told about the different steps involved in my care.

6. Pointing me towards further support
– I am told about things like self-help groups, or benefits advice.
– I am told who to contact in case of unforeseen problems.
– I am told about other health professionals that can be helpful to me.

7. Efficient sharing of my health information across services
– Health professionals in different services are up to date about my health problem.
– I have a written record of what has happened to me, or a care plan.

8. Involving me in decisions about my care
– Health professionals help me to take care of my own health.
– When choosing a treatment, health professionals listen to what is most important to me.
– I can refuse a treatment.