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By Debbie le Quesne

Dignity Action Day – the event that should never end

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Just incase you’ve missed the news, it’s Dignity Action Day tomorrow (Saturday) – a campaign that attempts to vastly improve the lives of those who need social, nursing and health care.

Dame Joan Bakewell, Dignity in Care ambassador sums up the goals perfectly: “Dignity Action Day highlights a more respectful way of behaving towards vulnerable people. The very old and the very young clearly need our respect, but it wouldn’t do any harm to spread the dignity message across the population then we can all benefit.”

Upholding people’s rights for dignity is surely a duty for all of us, whether in the care sector or not. To this end, events to promote the campaign have been happening all over the UK – everything from champagne and canapés afternoons to senior disco dances have been held.

Treating fellow members of our community with respect is something most of us do automatically – but sometimes in our enthusiasm to help, or just speed things along, we can steal the dignity of those who are most vulnerable.

I recall one training session where West Midlands Care Association had feedback on their workshop from carers. They were good students and some had been in care settings for many years, but one admitted to “struggling to not be in full control.”

Dignity in action is not necessarily about grand gestures, it’s about remaining aware of others’ needs and supporting their abilities . . . it’s about treating others the way we would wish to be treated.

Dignity Champions pledge to challenge poor care and act as good role models to others. They include health and social care managers and frontline staff, doctors, nurses, MPs, councillors, members of local action groups and people from voluntary groups, who believe being treated with dignity is a basic human right, not an optional extra.

There’s a 10 point Dignity Challenge we can commit to:

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.

One thing that has thrilled me during this campaign and it’s this: It doesn’t seem to have an end in sight. Dignity events are still on calendars – and long may they be so.

Have a good weekend . . . and for those who have trouble to enhance the dignity cause, a huge thank you.

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