Principle 3: Family-centred Care

Principle 3: Family-centred Care

Children are part of a family and are dependent on parents or primary caregivers for physical and emotional care and support. Families are a critical part of support and care for children.



The following is one of a group of principles which recognise the particular needs of children and young people receiving health and disability support services. The principles describe what should be provided when your child or young person receives those services. They are based on expert opinion and a considerable body of literature in New Zealand and overseas and they have been developed after wide consultation.

See a listing of 14 principles guiding provision of health and disability services

Family-centred care

Principle: Children are part of a family and are dependent on parents or primary caregivers for physical and emotional care and support. Families are a critical part of support and care for children.

Healthcare and disability support of children and young people must be family-centred; that is, responsive to family needs.

In a family-centred approach, healthcare must be planned with the family, respecting each family's cultural background and particular strengths and needs.

Family-centred care is evident when:

  • parents are encouraged and supported to stay with their child when they are receiving healthcare services and to accompany and support their child during procedures (for example, in the anaesthetic room and in recovery)
  • families receive the information and support they need and request throughout the course of their child's or young person's treatment
  • each family's beliefs, traditions, and ways of coping are respected
  • families are invited to share their knowledge of their child or young person and suggestions for their care, to ask the questions they want and need to ask, and to help identify the goals for their child or young person's care
  • families participate actively in all of their child's care and become full members of the care teams
  • families are supported to allow increasing confidentiality between their child and the child or young person's health professionals as the child matures

You may ask

  • is your family included in all healthcare planning regarding your child?
  • is there written information to explain services and to explain your child or young person's condition or disability?
  • is information available to you as often as needed, in a variety of formats; for example, written, verbal, audio and/or visual?
  • is information appropriate to your child's/family's culture and your child's or young person's age group?
  • how can you access your child’s notes?
  • what information is available about financial support for your family?
  • what provision is made for siblings?
  • what support services are available to your family and what is their role; for example, social worker, community worker, child/patient advocate?
  • does your family feel that your preferences in relation to grief, parenting style, choices about healthcare etc, are being accepted and supported?
  • are there programmes provided for children, young people and their siblings to help them understand the treatment, illness and/or disability?
  • are older children and young people given dedicated time to discuss sensitive matters with health professionals?
  • is there bedside accommodation for parents or primary caregivers of children in hospital?
  • what practical support is available free of charge for your family; for example, meals for a live-in parent in hospital, or residential healthcare setting? 
  • whether there is any financial assistance available (see Financial help when your child has a disability or chronic condition)

This page last reviewed 14 October 2021.

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