Transversal Skills for person-centred care

What are transversal skills?

Skills are ‘transversal’ when they ‘cut across’ work roles, and (in healthcare) are used alongside specific clinical or technical skills in different health occupations, at all levels. For example, ‘gathering evidence to assist in obtaining a client history’ could involve reading, writing and digital skills, as well as different forms of communication with a patient and carers.

A whole range of transversal skills are needed for successful person-centred care:

  • Communication
  • Shared decision making
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Numeracy
  • ICT use (digital literacy)
  • Problem solving
  • Task discretion
  • Learning at work skills
  • Influencing skills
  • Co-operative skills
  • Self-organising skills


Transversal (cross-cutting) skills in person-centred care – how are they used in practice?

Skills for Health used a survey to ask Nurses and Senior Healthcare Support Workers to say how they used transversal skills in their work. Healthcare practice teachers, mentors and tutors in universities were also asked to contribute. You can download a report on the survey here.

  • We took some short ‘competence statements’ from two Apprenticeship Standards - for Registered Nurse and Senior Healthcare Support Worker.
  • We asked for brief examples to show how a Student Nurse or Senior Healthcare Support Worker might use transversal skills to demonstrate these competences in practice.
  • And to identify all the transversal skills (from a list) that they thought would be used in their practice examples.

View these examples of how (and which) transversal skills are used in practice, in person-centred care.

Transversal Skills – what next?

We want to begin to show how transversal skills are used and cut across healthcare occupations. We believe this will help in developing better skills frameworks (and teaching and learning) for person-centred care.

To find out more, view Transversal Skills – what next?

So, we are developing an action research plan and detailed proposal, which would aim to:

  • Develop and test a transversal skills competency framework in a number of Multi-Disciplinary Teams (or MDTs) to show transversal skills competence is needed and used at all levels, in MDTs operating across Health and Social Care sectors.
  • Identify how transversal skills work in practice, alongside clinical and technical competence, in MDTs
  • Identify what Basic Skills (English, Maths ICT and Science concepts) are required to operate transversal skills and clinical/technical competence together successfully.
  • Demonstrate there are potential economic benefits (e.g., cost savings, improved efficiency).
  • Produce a transversal skills framework that shows how to reduce separate (overlapping) regulation of health professions.
  • Bring together and show how transversal skills are needed and operate in practice in MDTs, across Health and Social Care professions and roles.

Our thinking has been informed by the Feasibility Study on Health Workforce Skills Assessment - Supporting health workers achieve person-centred care published by the OECD (February 2018). Our approach would seek to build on and test the report’s findings and methodology.

The OECD advises countries on how to meet future demand for health professionals and how to manage the supply of health workers, by reviewing policies related to education and training, continuous professional development, geographic distribution and immigration.