Respecting and Promoting Dignity

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Personal dignity is about being treated in a way that respects you as an individual and your life.

If people feel their identity and value as a human being is not respected, it can stop them from enjoying life and living comfortably during a period of care.

Simple things can be done to promote dignity and eight factors have been identified by the Social Care Institute for Excellence. These are:

  • choice and control
  • communication
  • eating and nutritional care
  • pain management
  • personal hygiene
  • practical assistance
  • privacy
  • social inclusion

Promoting dignity

This involves small but thoughtful actions that to a person in care, can mean a lot.



Involve the person in designing their careInvolve the person in designing their care<div class="ExternalClass0A7041C15CF34776A0171EB34F1A68EC"><div class="text"> <p>It's often easier to go ahead with decisions about changing the way people receive their care, rather than taking the time to clearly explain it to them.</p><p>This makes the person feel disconnected and undervalued. Their lack of control over the situation can lead to them feeling that they’re just an object over which you have complete authority.</p><p>People appreciate being included in their care, it gives them the sense that their opinion and preferences are important and respected. Therefore, it is very important to be sure to involve them in all discussions about their care. </p><p>This includes :</p><ul class="list list-bullet"><li>decisions about what care they want to receive</li><li>discussion on how and what medication to take</li><li>day to day changes , such as staff changes or layout of the care home</li><li>meal plans, including dietary requirements and preferences</li></ul></div></div>
Let people choose their own clothingLet people choose their own clothing<div class="ExternalClassACAE95BBF5AA49108BCAEBCEC4C5D021"><p>People can have a strong sense of what style of clothing suits their personality and personal preferences. To deny them the ability to choose, or to not take into account what style and type of clothes they might choose impacts on their dignity.</p><p>Past life history can often be used as a guide to what people might like and simply giving the choice of the blue blouse or the red blouse can be highly beneficial. </p><p>This doesn’t mean you can’t assist them. With their approval you can help them: </p><ul class="list list-bullet"><li>dress</li><li>be part of the process</li><li>pick what to wear</li></ul><p>Unless they ask you to, don’t lay out an outfit for them just for the sake of speed. Give them time to select their own from the wardrobe.</p></div>
Address the person the way they wantAddress the person the way they want<div class="ExternalClassD1E79907DC43472D943603597FD45617"><p>An important part of a person’s identity is their name.This is how we identify ourselves and others.  Assuming which title or name a person would like to be addressed by , even if you think your assumption is the polite choice, is disrespectful to their identity and damages dignity. Don’t assume, ask.</p><p>This is especially important for the elderly, many of whom have certain expectations about how people should refer to them. </p><p>Always: </p><ul class="list list-bullet"><li>ask how someone would like to be addressed</li><li>use a polite, friendly voice</li></ul><p>You should not:</p><ul class="list list-bullet"><li>adopt a patronising tone - they’re adults, not children</li><li>talk over or across the person</li><li>talk about person as if they're not there, especially when talking to other members of staff </li></ul></div>
Make food look and taste niceMake food look and taste nice<div class="ExternalClass1613A327B84147BEA3EDAD7ABFF9E7BE"><div class="text"> <p>For people in care  mealtimes can be the highlight of the day. Nothing is more disheartening than having an unpleasant meal. </p><p>Imagine being presented with an unappetising plate of food both in terms of look (for example white fish, white potatoes on a white plate) and taste (cold food) – every day for weeks, months, maybe even years on end.</p><p>Involving people in creating meal plans is hugely beneficial. They can offer suggestions, such as their favourite dishes or things they'd like to try. </p><p>Make sure kitchen staff are skilled at cooking and presenting food, receive fresh, quality ingredients, and make the effort to make sure food is tasty, properly cooked and well presented. </p></div></div>
Handle hygiene activities sensitivelyHandle hygiene activities sensitively<div class="ExternalClass18329E37DC874656BB92AC0D1CA4F4CA"><div class="text"><p>You may be used to seeing people’s unclothed bodies every day, but the person you are providing care for will not be used to revealing theirs so frequently.</p><p>If you need to assist a person with bathing and dressing/undressing, you must handle the situation with tact. Understand that they will be self-conscious and very self-aware when undressed.</p><p>Above all, you must ask for consent before you engage in any activities involving their body.</p><p>You should:</p><ul class="list list-bullet"><li>explain what you’re doing as you’re doing it</li><li>talk to them to make the situation less uncomfortable and less aware of their body</li><li>ask if they'd like to put music on or the TV for background noise if they don't want to talk</li></ul></div></div>
Promote social activitiesPromote social activities<div class="ExternalClass7D01D378A48144B88402B194EC2C3532"><div class="text"> <p>Being in a care home can leave a person feeling shut off from the outside world.</p><p>For those who have an outgoing personality, this can be extremely damaging to their identity and dignity. They may end up feeling like they are simply a task for caregivers to complete, like a burden.</p><p>Having a social life gives them a sense of purpose and satisfaction, and  improves their quality of life. </p><p>You should create opportunities for people in your care to engage in social activities, whether it be inside or outside the premises. Examples of this can be:</p><ul class="list list-bullet"><li>contact with family</li><li>eating out with friends</li><li>getting involved in local groups</li></ul><p>Encourage them to adopt hobbies and provide them with the means and equipment to do so, such as knitting or art supplies.</p></div></div>
Know how to detect painKnow how to detect pain<div class="ExternalClassD17D9172B4074D32B2CDEC21A3954FD5"><div class="text"> <p>Treating pain in care homes can be tricky. Older people are more likely to experience pain but less likely to complain or want medication. This can leave the elderly in a great deal of pain which will distract them and hinder their ability to enjoy the remainder of their life.</p><p>Ideally you will be able to find information in care plans on how individuals may express pain or discomfort. Examples of how to detect pain in a person can be: </p><ul class="list list-bullet"><li>restlessness</li><li>rubbing an area of the body</li><li>rocking</li><li>isolating themselves</li><li>avoidance</li></ul><p>Detecting pain is easier if the person is seen by the same caregiver regularly, as trends and changes in behaviour will be more apparent. </p><p>These should be fed into the care planning process so other staff can maintain awareness of the individual. It also allows you to build a relationship with the person, so they’ll feel more willing to tell you about any pain.</p></div></div>
Have a friendly chatHave a friendly chat<div class="ExternalClass2E6D94FB323545DFB651D3331C7B2587"> <div class="text"><p>Your life as a caregiver probably feels very hectic, especially if you have to run back and forth between several people a day. </p><p>But for a person in care, it could be quite boring or uneventful. You're likely talk to dozens of people throughout the day, including other caregivers and service users. Many residents in the care home might only talk to one person a day: you.</p><p>A five or ten minute chat will fulfil their craving for social interaction and lift their spirits. </p><p>You should:</p><ul class="list list-bullet"><li>let them lead the conversation if they want to</li><li>really listen and interact and not nod along until you have an opportunity to leave</li><li>show an interest in what the person is saying</li><li>let them know politely when you have to move on with reassurance you'll continue the chat next time</li></ul></div></div>
Respect personal space and belongingsRespect personal space and belongings<div class="ExternalClass0C68F575FA8042DEB882F5E5849FCA1C"><div class="text"><p>You are caregiver and care resident, not mother and child. Just because you’re in charge of their care, it doesn't mean you can barge into their personal space without asking for permission. </p><p>Respecting residents’ privacy in a care home is of utmost importance. Being in such close quarters with strangers can already feel claustrophobic without your lack of consideration.</p><p>Always knock or ask to come in before enetering a person's room, unless they are incapable of giving permission or it’s an emergency.</p><p>You should:</p><ul class="list lost-bullet"><li>not move or go through people’s personal belongings without permission</li><li>remember to respect a person's position and space</li><li>ask if it’s okay for you to move their items while you clean and place it all back when done</li></ul><p>The simple act of asking makes people feel respected and more open to giving you permission. It also helps create trust.</p></div></div>

Dignity is one of the areas that requires audits and we have a basic tool to adapt and edit if you find it useful.