September 1, 2023

Top 5 questions to ask for person-centred care planning

Table of contents

In this post, you'll discover our top examples of person-centered questions.

When it comes to care delivery, it can be difficult to separate what matters ‘to’ someone and what matters ‘for’ them.

But the difference between the two could completely change the outlook of your care. And the great news is that you can start to build person centred care plans that focus on what matters to people by starting with the right questions. 

So, instead of doing what’s important “for” someone (like making sure they take their meds and get dressed every day), you can start to look at what is really important “to” them (like dressing them in their favourite clothes and offering them their favourite beverage with their medications). By truly understanding what is important and filling in the blanks, you’ll help build a full-colour picture of the people you care for. This extra information will equip you and your care team with the correct information to improve the quality of care you provide. 

So how can you make sure that your care planning captures every single element of “what matters”? This blog will walk you through the steps you need to take to ensure every person in your care gets asked the right questions to ensure their care can be really person-centred. 

How can you plan care effectively?

As a home care provider, time is tight. Care managers and coordinators often tell us they worry about the time it’ll take to record such open-ended questions such as ‘what matters to you’, especially when they have lots of clients to repeat the process with. 

In an ideal world, you could spend hours talking to your clients and finding out all about them to build the most person-centred care plan possible. We know this isn’t always possible when you’re up against external pressures, tight turnaround times and juggling your time management. That’s why we created our About Me feature, and why we’re sharing the five key question areas to ask in this blog - so you have everything you need to plan care effectively.  

How to ask person-centred questions?

Care plan templates are a great place to start but you need to make sure that the questions asked in your initial assessments and reviews will really help you get to the heart of what matters. 

There are no wrong questions, but asking ones that help your client to open up and share their experience will not only help you to get to know your client better, they’ll also improve the quality of care, help your client be more involved and ensure you meet the new national standards. (Commissioned and led by NHS Digital and produced by the Professional Record Standards Body (PRSB). You can find out more about the standards here.)

But what should you be asking? Even the most obvious questions (like name and gender) may have caveats that you haven’t thought about. It’s important that you cover key areas like this in your initial assessments, not only because they’ll impact your CQC KLOE rating but also so you can deliver the best care possible. We’ll walk you through how to expand your current questions a little later on in this post.

You'll also like: Domiciliary care - Complete guide

Examples of person-centered care plan questions

At Birdie, we’ve been working closely and collaborating with a number of our partner agencies, plus our in-house clinicians, to develop our brand-new ‘About Me’ feature, in line with all five of the CQC KLOEs and designed to be truly future-proof. We’ve made 19 links with the CQC KLOE questions through our new feature, and it’s entirely in line with the new PRSB standards we mentioned earlier. 

Below, you’ll find a sample summary of the kinds of questions in our digital care planning template section of Birdie (About Me). It’s important to remember that you don’t always have to ask every single one of these questions - we’ve designed them to be really industry-leading and future proof, considering everything from sexuality to family routines. Not everyone will be comfortable with every question, and it’s OK if you don’t feel comfortable asking them. The reason we’ve developed these questions is to ensure that our tools are inclusive and diverse so that everyone's care needs are considered - right now and in the future. If you decide not to ask a question, or your client doesn’t want to answer, we’ll hide that section from view, so when it comes to the CQC inspection, an inspector won’t see any missing fields. 

It’s also important to continually update and review your care plan assessments as you receive new information. Our About Me feature has been designed to be used continually and built upon by care staff during their visits (and updated instantly). If you’re using paper and filling out these questions in one go, you may need to complete them in more than one visit.

Here’s a sample of the critical questions you should be adding to your current care plan templates, alongside the usual information you already store. Remember, after every question you should ask how their answers will impact their care needs. 

  • How do you like to be referred to? He/Him / She/Her They/Them? 
  • Do you have a preferred name, and how should we (your care team) address you? (A person’s preferred name might be different to their legal name, and it could be crucial that you get this right.)
  • What elements of your personality should we consider? Does your ethnicity, religion or culture affect your care needs?
  • How involved are your family members? 
  • Are there any elements of your life that are particularly important? Think: job history, important people, essential routines, hobbies, fears or interests?

Download a complete version of these questions below, in a PDF version for you to print and use:

Woman in boots holds care plan template

“Knowing what a client has experienced can lead to a conversation but also an understanding of the person they are now. For example, we have an ex-football player, who also has an M.B.E, and he likes to chat about this. However, he was in the navy for many years and has a strict regime of getting up at 5 am and going to bed at 6 pm. Knowing this ensures that if carers are late, they won’t walk into him asleep and cause him to be angry that he is awoken. The feature ensures that they know why this is important and ensure that they stick to this.”

Sunny Lives Support

Birdie's Agency Hub and Carer App showing About Me feature and a personal profile, illustrated
Birdie's About Me Feature helps you meet all five KLOEs

How could the right person-centered questions improve your CQC rating?

At Birdie, we’ve built our brand-new ‘About Me’ feature in line with the CQC KLOEs and designed it to be truly future-proof. It directly aligns with all five areas and direct links to 19 specific questions. Adding the questions above to your care plan templates could help you to meet them too. 

See how the right questions help you do more than tick the boxes below.


  • Documentation of protected characteristics and information that promotes inclusivity (e.g. sexuality, gender identity).
  • Documentation of dislikes and worries - by being aware of these factors, carers can ensure that a client is not exposed to these where possible, reducing the risk of presenting challenging behaviours in response to these factors.
  • Allows for a level of support required with medication to be documented.


  • Support the delivery of a holistic assessment so that people can achieve effective outcomes
  • Preferences can be documented to ensure that these can be taken into account during carer visits, e.g. habits and routines, carer preferences (male/female), other preferences. 
  • Cultural and religious practices and preferences can be documented and the impact that these may have on the delivery of care.


  • Support the delivery of person-centred care, capturing information that can enrich interactions (e.g. life history).
  • Personal histories and background is captured across various domains (e.g. significant places, important people, hobbies, and interests) so that carers can get to know them and have talking points.


  • Involve your client in the assessment planning process with questions that will have a lasting positive impact on care delivery. 
  • Hobbies and interests are documented so that the care team can support a person to maintain these where possible. 
  • Advanced care decisions can be documented (ADRT, DNACPR, ReSPECT etc.) so that future wishes can be adhered to.
  • Cultural and religious factors can be documented so that the care team can support a person through care delivery to uphold beliefs and identity (e.g. fitting in visits around prayer times, accompanying clients to events). 
  • Information about important people can be captured so that care teams are aware of which people are significant to the client and may be involved in supporting them on an informal basis.


  • Supports delivery of person-centred, compassionate, dignified care that promotes inclusivity and positive outcomes.
  • Carers can contribute to building up the picture of information from their interactions with people.

Read also: Everything you need to know about advanced care planning

How to keep care needs front of mind

Once you’ve done the work in asking the questions, it’s really important that your care teams have read the information that relates to their clients, and they feel empowered to help you add to it on an ongoing basis. 

If your care planning is currently completed on paper and added to a client file, it can be challenging to ensure your carers read all the information. Still, you should encourage them to read the entire care plan thoroughly before meeting a client for the first time. 

If you’ve asked the right questions, your client’s care plan should give your staff all the information they need to make them feel at ease, ensure they deliver care in the right way and remain respectful of their wishes, preferences and needs.

Your care teams should also feel empowered to add to your client’s care plans and help enrich them with the information that matters. 

We like to think of good care like a best friend.

When you first met your best friend, it’s unlikely that your first interaction was the one that cemented your relationship.

Instead, you built your friendship over a period of tiny micro-interactions that slowly built up to complete the picture. It may have felt like it happened in the blink of an eye, but in fact, you asked many questions, spent lots of time together and together, you found common ground that allowed you to build the foundations of a lasting friendship.

Good care is the same. Instead of treating care-planning like a tick box exercise, you should encourage your care teams to document every micro-interaction to allow you to build the complete picture of the people in your care.

A more straightforward way to ensure that information is accessible and read on an ongoing basis is to move your care planning to a digital format that your care teams can access whenever they need it. Systems like Birdie make this possible so that care plans are at their fingertips all the time. 

Digital care planning also allows for instant changes, so if you receive new information, your care teams will have the updated details as soon as you do - allowing for streamlined continuity of care.

You may like this video…Harrison from Caring Forever discusses how accessibility works in the birdie Care Professional app:

“[Care plans are] updated on the Birdie app with a click of a button, and care can commence straight away. The care team sees all information immediately and as it happens – whether in the field or the office. Being able to be this responsive has not only transformed CHD Care at Home’s way of working but has made a huge contribution towards joined-up working with our partner NHS hospitals.”

CHD Living

You can find out more about digital vs paper care planning here, and more about our brand new About Me feature here.

Ready to start planning your care digitally? Talk to a Birdie Care Consultant to find out how we can help. 

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