After a while, the hospital or care home where you work becomes as familiar to you as your own home. But it’s important to remember that for patients and relatives these alien environments can often feel scary and add to the vulnerability they are feeling.
You can help to minimise anxieties by providing dignified and compassionate care and this should be a fundamental part of training for all nurses and healthcare assistants.
Everyone deserves to be treated in a dignified way. Whether you are caring for a young mother, an elderly gentleman or a person at the end of their life the principles remain the same. The individual’s identity and wishes should be at the forefront of treatment and care planning.
The Royal College of Nursing’s (RCN) definition is: ‘Dignity is concerned with how people feel, think and behave in relation to the worth or value of themselves and others. To treat someone with dignity is to treat them as being of worth, in a way that is respectful of them as valued individuals.’
There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to any aspect of care, however there are principles that we know help to make individuals feel cared for and respected.
The individual should always be at the centre of their care. The RCN states that person-centred care is all about the ‘needs of the person rather than those of the staff or patient’s location’.
To help promote dignity in care, you need to listen your patients and take their needs and wishes into account. For example, an older female may not wish to be bathed by a male carer. This needs to be documented within the care plan to ensure that the patient retains her dignity. Read our blog on the meaning of person-centred care.
One way to approach dignified care is to think ‘How would I like to be treated?’ or ‘How would I care for a loved one?’
Below we explore the need for choice, communication, and dignity in personal care.
There are various pieces of legislation that govern the overall care of patients and care home residents. These will depend on the area of the UK where you live and include:
There are also various polices and organisations that are linked to maintaining, improving and promoting the dignity of all patients and care home residents. These include The National Dignity Council.
Dignity in care needs to be a core topic within healthcare training. Courses should cover a range of topics to help nurses and carers better understand how to provide dignified care in a variety of settings, e.g. the care home or hospital environment.
These courses can be delivered via eLearning or in person. Dignity in care training covers a wide range of subjects including dignity in continence care, person-centred care, older people and end of life care. It’s also highly encouraged that all staff working within the health and social care sectors train to become a Dignity Champion.
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