Decent Care Values is a model to improve healthcare by listening to what people living with life-limiting disease and illness want and need. The model aims to transform healthcare at three levels – individual, social and systemic – and to bridge human rights principles with the practice of medicine.
The six values that underpin Decent Care Values are:
- agency and dignity (personal decision power and respect)
- interdependence and solidarity (connecting with providers and community)
- subsidiarity and sustainability (aligning and influencing systems resources)
The Decent Care Values philosophy of care was developed by the World Health Organization (WHO), international ethicists, people affected by life-limiting illnesses, philosophers, social scientists and religious leaders to help create a framework within which people living with illness have the ability to construct, direct, and manage their care.
Altarum Institute led the Decent Care Values Project using its own internal research and development funds, supplemented by grants from the World Health Organization and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. The project’s goal was to use palliative care services for people affected by cancer and HIV/AIDS as the first healthcare arena for understanding the effects of Decent Care Values on the delivery of health services.
Two demonstration projects in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Nairobi, Kenya, were set up to explore the role of Decent Care Values in palliative care services. Although the two locations are radically different in populations, religion, economics and culture, both found resonance and applicability of the values.
The project demonstrated that using a values-based approach can facilitate change in a resource-poor or a resource-rich environment. Also, the values provided a way for communities to engage in dialogue about what they need and value in healthcare settings, to address needs and gaps at the individual, community and social levels.