By Debbie le Quesne

Dignity Action Day on the horizon

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We are fast pushing through January – scary isn’t it – with the national Dignity Action Day looming ever nearer.

West Midlands Care Association will be adding its significant contributions to the event (more on that as the countdown to February 1 gets closer) but I wanted to encourage you to get involved.

Our role in this initiative is primarily through training but I’ve been looking at how others who have become dignity champions have marked the event in recent years and what ‘s happening throughout the UK this year.

Hospitals, care and nursing homes, domiciliary services, community nurses, support networks and business for the disables and learning disabled and day centres have all taken part.

Teas, cakes, funny stories, memory jogging, lectures, forums, tombolas, care home open days, a transport theme day with everything from police vehicles to hoists and wheelchairs, a Fairy Godmother day, informal discussions with relatives and friends, coffee mornings, awareness events, around the world food fun, a daffodils day, a country and western themed event, tea dancing and drop-in sessions are all on the agenda for this year.

For many who have already signed up to this good practice framework the day’s activities have been extended through the week.

Before the Dignity in Care campaign was launched, numerous focus groups took place around he country to find out what Dignity in Care meant to people.

The issues raised at these events resulted in the development of the 10 Point Dignity Challenge. The challenge describes values and actions that high quality services that respect people’s dignity should:

  1.   Have a zero tolerance of all forms of abuse
  2.   Support people with the same respect you would want for yourself or a member of your family
  3.  Treat each person as an individual by offering a personalised service
  4.  Enable people to maintain the maximum possible level of independence, choice and control
  5.  Listen and support people to express their needs and wants
  6.  Respect people’s right to privacy
  7.  Ensure people feel able to complain without fear of retribution
  8.  Engage with family members and carers as care partners
  9.  Assist people to maintain confidence and positive self-esteem

10.   Act to alleviate people’s loneliness and isolation

So how can you help?

Dignity is a central pillar of all care and not only do we need care professionals to keep updated with training, we also need to tell the world – well, at least the local media – that honouring those for whom we care is the heartbeat of 99.9 per cent of those in care. Be creative, have fun and get the message out there . . . please.

Let me remind you of what happens when we lose sight of dignity.

Last week three care workers who abused elderly dementia sufferers at a nursing home were jailed and a fourth given a community sentence.

Residents at Hillcroft Nursing Home in Slyne-with-Hest, Lancaster, were mocked, bullied and tormented because they would have no memory of the abuse.

One man had his foot stamped on deliberately and another nearly tipped out of his wheelchair.

The vulnerable victims were also pelted with bean bags and balls at their heads “for entertainment”.

Carol Ann Moore, 54, Katie Cairns, 27, and Gemma Pearson, 28, were found guilty by a jury at Preston Crown Court of ill-treatment or neglect of a person who lacks capacity, under the Mental Capacity Act, after a four-week trial last November.

Darren Smith, 35, from Lancaster, who admitted ahead of the trial eight counts of ill-treatment in which he threw bean bags or ball at eight residents, has been jailed for eight months by Preston Crown Court.

Last week Cairns was sentenced to five months in prison, Moore was jailed for four months and Pearson was given a 12-month community order.

Sentencing, Judge Byrne was reported as saying: “Some of the offences were gratuitous sport at the expense of vulnerable victims. Each of these defendants broke the trust placed in them.”

Indeed they did. They also brought shame to our care sector which found headlines everywhere.

Let’s try to put some good headlines out.

More blogs on dignity coming soon,

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