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Practical Dignity (Dignity Part 2)

Posted On October 21, 2018 • No Comments

How To Create A Culture Of Dignified Care In Every Care Context.


We all know dignity is the central pillar to person-centred practice. The problem is that if we’re not intentional, talking about dignity can be limited to just that – talk…and we can get stuck when it comes to the realm of action.

So how do we take a concept that can be hard to pin down practically, and make it accessible in our own practice and the a core aspect of the culture of our organisations?

Here are four quick and practical ways to bring dignified care to your workplace today:

1. Autonomy

No matter the person’s background, history, diagnosis, family situation, or cognitive capacity – everyone deserves a voice in their care. Involving the person in decision-making brings a sense of affirmation, security and personal choice.

A common misconception is that if a person is experiencing a decline in cognition then they can’t comprehend what’s involved in their care. Whilst there may be some aspects that are too complex to grasp, a person will always understand what it feels like to be affirmed and heard – no matter what their level of cognitive ability.

2. Individuality

Everyone is different. And therefore everyone’s care needs are different. One practical way of bringing dignity is to pay attention to the person’s specific care plan. Don’t assume. Providing care isn’t a formula where we hope for the best fit…it’s about ensuring we get the best fit.

3. Privacy

I got busted by an unlocked toilet door last week…and the memories are still haunting me! Simple things like knocking first can make a world of difference when it comes to respecting someone’s personhood.

Talk to the person (not about them). Provide cover or screening in moments of vulnerability. Maintain standards of appropriate physical touch. it’s the little things that make a big difference,

4. Independence

Last but not least: the dignity of independence.

For some, moving towards independence is a work in progress. For others, modified independence is a long-term reality. Whatever the person’s level of functional capacity, we can provide dignity practically by supporting independence at every level.

Rather than jumping in and doing the task automatically, we can provide practical dignity by giving verbal encouragement and support. Coach the person through new skills. Assume the person can have a go (safely!) before we assume they can’t.

Dignity doesn’t have to be an unattainable, unexplainable idea…in fact the opposite is true; dignity is a central, practical aspect to every single care context. Let’s create a practical and open conversation around dignified care that continues to shape the culture of our organisations.

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