Sexual and reproductive healthcare is personal.
That’s why, we know that the person best placed to make decisions about their body and their future is the client. As healthcare providers, we can guide and support these decision-making processes, by listening and counselling comprehensively on the options available. But ultimately the aim is simple: to empower clients to make the reproductive choices that are right for them. That is what we mean by client-centred care.
Putting client-centred care into practice requires the backing of the whole organisation and a commitment to continuous improvement. At MSI, our client-centred care philosophy means respecting our clients as active partners in their own service, caring about who our clients are, their experiences, and how they feel before, during and after they access care with us. So, as we approach World Contraception Day and International Safe Abortion Day 2021, we reflect on why client-centred care is key to empowering reproductive choices globally.
The benefits of delivering client-centred reproductive healthcare are far-reaching. At a global level, client-centred care has been found to improve awareness and use of contraception. And by ensuring abortion services are confidential and non-judgmental, client-centred care can lower the chances of a client seeking an unsafe abortion instead.
At MSI, we listen to our clients and what they tell us they need in their healthcare journey, to learn how we can best support them and improve access for others. For example, clients that strongly agreed they were treated with respect, had enough privacy, and found it easy to ask questions were twice as likely to recommend MSI’s services to a friend. In stigmatised settings, where awareness around sexual and reproductive healthcare can be low, this helps to support access to safe care.
So, to ensure all programmes and providers are well equipped to deliver client-centred care, we have rolled out a Client-Centred Care Strategy, featuring new resources, a client charter, training materials, and metrics across three key areas:
1. An organisation that cares
We have well-established protocols and support systems that reinforce a values-driven organisational culture, with a focus on care and leaving no one behind. This includes policies and processes that ensure total confidentiality for all clients and metrics for measuring and rewarding the delivery of positive client experiences.
2. Staff who are supported and cared for
Our tailored clinical guidelines and competency frameworks focus on client-centred service delivery, with a bespoke training package that ensures team members are equipped and celebrated for delivering empowering care to all. In tandem, we ensure provider wellbeing is prioritised with sessions that support any emotional challenges faced when delivering sexual and reproductive healthcare, particularly in stigmatised environments.
3. Positive and empowering client experiences
At its core, our strategy includes approaches for ensuring all clients are fully informed of their choices, feel listened to, and respected as an active partner in their healthcare, with access to support before, during and after their service. This commitment is stated in our client charter and displayed in our service delivery sites to empower clients to provide feedback and hold us to account.
From a checklist that allows providers to put themselves in the shoes of our clients, to regular workshops that provide emotional support to frontline staff, the strategy, and accompanying resources and training, will ensure MSI can turn our commitment to client-centred care into action. And to hold ourselves to account across the three key areas, we have developed a global metric, to assess where there is room for improvement and track our progress at a national and global level.
Our programmes are already seeing the impact. In Zambia, with the new strategy, our frontline staff have strengthened their ability to view services through the eyes of their clients, driving improvements in their service delivery, while providing mentorship programmes and emotional support for providers. As a result, our interviews with clients have shown significant improvements, with a rise in client satisfaction across the board, from facility opening times to provider support, and 94% of clients strongly agreeing they were treated with respect by all providers.
Now, we’re working to mirror the successes seen in Zambia across MSI’s other country programmes. With the organisational commitment in our MSI 2030 strategy, and the framework and resources in place, we are confident we’ll get there, moving that bit closer to a future where everyone, everywhere can make the reproductive choices that are right for them.
Read more about MSI’s Client-Centred Care Strategy via our resource page and subscribe to our newsletter to remain up to date as we publish more news and resources on empowering choice.