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Meeting Patients’ Needs

All people have things that they want and need. A want is something that we would like to have. Wants are things like a new car or a bigger house. A need is something that we must have. Needs include things like food and shelter.

A man in the 1940s named Abraham Maslow developed a way of organizing human needs by order of importance. His theory was that people have five basic needs:

  • self-actualization

  • esteem

  • love and belonging

  • safety

  • things that support the body’s ability to function (food, water and sleep)

He put these needs into a pyramid. The most basic needs like food and water are at the bottom. The more advanced needs are at the top. Maslow believed that a person needed to have his or her most basic needs met first. Then a person could pay attention to higher needs.

Today many caregivers still use Maslow’s pyramid to assist patients in the best way. Imagine a caregiver enters a patient’s room. The patient hasn’t had anything to eat or to drink for several hours. The patient also feels disrespected by another staff member. She misses her family too. Which need should the caregiver address first? According to Maslow’s pyramid, it would be the more basic need. First, the caregiver should give the patient something to eat and drink. Then the caregiver could begin working on the issues of the patient feeling disrespected and lonely.

Caregivers should learn about Maslow’s theory of human needs. It’s an important part of providing quality care.

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© 2015 by Southwest Adult Basic Education

Project made financially possible through grants from:

Southwest Initiative Foundation, Marshall Community Foundation, Southwest Regional Transition Partners, Southwest Adult Basic Education, Marshall Healthcare Partners