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Rural Health Information Hub

Adopting a Whole Person Mindset

Successful care coordination programs focus on meeting the needs of each individual, beyond healthcare services, including transportation, home safety, nutrition, and literacy. Care coordination involves addressing more than just the medical needs of a patient and supporting the entire person.

Care coordination should involve patient-centered strategies that emphasize the importance of overall patient well-being and that include a focus on more than just the medical condition being treated. An important element of this process includes educating and empowering patients to make health decisions in order to manage their own care, as well as respecting different cultures and beliefs. It is important that care coordination programs provide services that connect patients with culturally competent care, which is care that recognizes:

“diverse values, beliefs and behaviors, including tailoring health care delivery to meet patients' social, cultural, and linguistic needs.”

Adopting a whole person mindset also involves considering social determinants of health as important factors in the care coordination process. Access to transportation to get to healthcare appointments, as well as access to nutritious food, a safe home environment, educational opportunities, and financial resources can all impact health and well-being. For additional information about implementation considerations related to rural transportation access and food access, see the Transportation Toolkit and Social Determinants of Health in Rural Communities Toolkit.

Providers and care coordinators should also consider the potential impact of trauma as an important social determinant of health. Trauma is an experience that is:

“physically or emotionally harmful or life-threatening with lasting adverse effects on an individual's functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.”

Trauma-informed care, or a trauma-informed approach to care coordination, involves care providers having an understanding about the different types of trauma that people can experience and the potential influence of trauma on individuals, families, and communities. Rural care coordination programs should be adapted to consider patients' experiences, and care coordinators should be trained to identify signs of trauma. An understanding of the impacts of trauma can help care coordination programs better manage the complex needs of patients and understand some of the causes and challenges for seeking care.

Resources to Learn More

Becoming a Culturally Competent Health Care Organization
This guide defines cultural competency in health care and describes how health care organizations can take actions to become culturally competent. Describes the benefits of cultural competence and provides case examples of health care organizations following steps outlined in the guide.
Organization(s): American Hospital Association, Health Research & Educational Trust, Institute for Diversity in Health Management
Date: 6/2013

SAMHSA’s Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach
This resource provides an overview of trauma and a trauma-informed approach to caring for individuals and communities who have experienced different forms of trauma. It presents a framework, developed by SAMHSA, which includes steps for implementing a trauma-informed approach.
Organization(s): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Date: 6/2014

Key Ingredients for Successful Trauma-Informed Care Implementation
This issue brief describes best practices for implementation of successful trauma-informed care. The brief includes information collected from interviews with experts on trauma-informed care and highlights steps for organizations to take to adapt practices to address the impact of trauma.
Author(s): Menschner, C. & Maul, A.
Organization(s): Center for Healthcare Strategies, Inc., Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Date: 4/2016