Dignity and respect are core principles of health and social care services.
A person requiring care and support must put their trust and well-being in the hands of others. This creates a degree of vulnerability and dependency as the person receiving care may feel they don’t have full control over their life. Dignity in health and social care addresses these aspects to ensure service users are treated with respect through legislation and best practice.
In this post, we answer the question “What is dignity in health and social care?”
What does dignity mean in health and social care?
The precise definition of dignity can be difficult to pin down, but it can be loosely defined as a person’s right to be respected, valued, and honoured.
Dignity is a fundamental human right that ensures people are treated ethically and with respect. Maintaining patient dignity is a critical element of health and social care, as people feel particularly vulnerable when sick or elderly and in need of care.
At Country Cousins, dignity in social care underpins our core values. Everything we do is viewed through this lens. Focusing on dignity and respect in home care enables us to provide person-centred care that promotes an individual’s autonomy, dignity and independence.
For example, home care promotes these values by acknowledging a person’s abilities and supporting them in ways that the client chooses in order to increase their independence, as opposed to doing everything for the individual which diminishes their independence and autonomy.
Dignity in health and social care means, in essence, a person-centred approach to care where a person’s wishes, values and ethics are respected and catered for above anyone else’s.
Legislation and regulation of dignity in health care
An individual’s right to be treated with dignity and respect is enshrined within UK legislation and regulations.
The Care Act 2014 states that service users of social and health care must be treated with dignity and respect by:
“…a) ensuring the privacy of the service user;
b) supporting the autonomy, independence and involvement in the community of the service user…”
The Government has published Care and Support Statutory Guidance for local authorities and practitioners. It is also helpful for people using care services and their families, to better understand standards of care that they can expect and deserve.
The Care Quality Commission is the independent regulator of health and adult social care in England. The CQC provides guidance to health and social care service providers and regularly assesses their services to ensure these standards are met. The CQC sets out very clear guidance on dignity in care in relation to The Care Act 2014 and how it should be achieved.
Additionally, The Human Rights Act 1998 defines several human rights which protect the belief that everyone should be treated equally, and with dignity, regardless of their circumstances.
“A person should have the right to have access to public services and to be treated fairly by those services, respect for private and family life, and the right to liberty and security.”
The seven principles of dignity
To translate this legislation into the health and social services sector, seven principles of dignity offer a framework for care workers and tangible ways to promote dignity and respect in health and care services.
The seven principles of dignity are:
Recognise and respect uniqueness
Acknowledge that each person requiring care is an individual with their own story and aspirations. Carers show respect through words and actions, demonstrating that they value and appreciate the individual.
Adapt care and support
Take responsibility for tailoring care and support services to meet the individual’s needs and preferences. Listen, understand, and honour clients’ views and wishes, empowering them with choice and control.
Communicate with individuals in the manner they prefer, respecting their preferred communication style. Recognise that how carers talk and act towards clients reflects our respect for their dignity.
Maintain personal care privacy
Recognise that supporting personal care may impact a person’s dignity. Help individuals feel as comfortable as possible, acknowledging that personal care is private and respecting their autonomy.
Understand that a person’s surroundings and environment contribute to their sense of dignity. When working in someone’s personal space, seek their permission to move belongings and demonstrate commitment to their dignity.
Cultivate a culture of dignity
Foster a workplace culture that actively promotes dignity in care. Encourage positive attitudes and behaviours among all staff members to maintain respect and uphold dignity in care.
Balancing challenging situations
Acknowledge that there may be instances where carers need to challenge the client, which can potentially impact their dignity. When faced with difficult situations, strive to find a balance where carers can address concerns or issues while maintaining a commitment to upholding their dignity. This principle recognises that there may be times when it becomes necessary to address certain behaviours, actions, or situations that compromise the well-being or safety of the individual.
How Country Cousins promotes dignity in live-in care
At Country Cousins, we put dignity and respect at the heart of everything we do. Our carers are compassionate, kind and caring people who share our values. In order to provide respectful and dignified care we always:
- Ask permission and respect personal space and possessions
- Help our service users to live independently
- Treat service users as individuals
- Let service users have choices and preferences; from clothing to meals
- Communicate respectfully and in a way that the person prefers
- Handle hygiene sensitively and privately
- Involve service users in decisions relating to their care
- Address service users in the way they prefer
“As my sister became too ill to look after herself, Country Cousins organised round-the-clock home care for her. Because her condition was changing all the time, this was a difficult task without perfect solutions. The carers treated my sister with great humanity and did their best to ensure her safety and make her comfortable. I do not think anyone could have done more and I am grateful to them all.”
Why choose Country Cousins?
We are the UK’s longest-serving live-in care agency with over 60 years’ experience of ensuring vulnerable adults have the best carers supporting them in their own homes across the UK. We take care of hundreds of clients every week in the comfort of their homes, providing respectful and dignified care for the elderly, people convalescing at home, and those who need extra support to live independently.
We meticulously select carers based on your lifestyle, personal preferences, hobbies, care needs and health conditions so we can match you with the perfect carer who has the skills and qualities you are looking for.
Our friendly and knowledgeable staff are on hand to answer any questions you might have with no obligations. Get in touch with one of our experienced team today on 01923 224706 to discuss your live-in care needs or complete our online enquiry form.