Why is dignity important in health and social care?

why is dignity important in health and social care

Respecting a patient’s dignity is a core principle of healthcare.

Health and social care organisations should provide services that advocate treating every patient with respect and helping them to maintain their dignity. Health and social care workers should strive to provide the kind of care to their patients that they would wish for themselves and their own families.

In this article, we will find out more about how patient dignity can be maintained by health and social care organisations and why this is such an important aspect of their care.

What is dignity?

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.

When people are treated with dignity, it can help them to feel worthy and build their self-esteem. If we feel we are being disrespected, disregarded, or like we don’t have control over our lives, it can make us feel like we are losing our sense of dignity.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.’ The idea that we all have the right to live in dignity and that our dignity is something that should be protected unifies all of humankind, across all cultures and beliefs.

Why is maintaining the dignity of adults important in health and social care?

When we’re sick or vulnerable we may feel like we don’t have total control over our lives, and it is then easy to feel concerned about our dignity being taken away from us.

Dignity is a fundamental human right and maintaining patient dignity is a long-established principle of health and social care. There are rules, regulations, and processes in place to ensure that patient dignity is maintained and always respected by health and social care workers.

According to Regulation 10 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008, healthcare providers should: ‘make sure that they provide care and treatment in a way that ensures people’s dignity and treats them with respect at all times. This includes making sure that people have privacy when they need and want it, treating them as equals and providing any support they might need to be autonomous, independent and involved in their local community.’

All health and social care workers have a responsibility to ensure that the dignity of their patients is being maintained.

Key reasons why maintaining patient dignity is so important include:

Ethically it is the right thing to do – Every patient has the right to maintain their dignity and it is the moral responsibility of the healthcare workers caring for them to ensure that this right is being respected.

Patient health and wellbeing – If we feel like our dignity is being taken away from us it can cause us to quickly lose confidence and motivation and harm our mental wellbeing. Protecting patients’ mental wellbeing is very important to their overall health and happiness. Better mental wellbeing can help patients to recover quicker from illness or injury.

Build better relationships – When you provide care that protects a patient’s dignity it can help to foster trust and mutual respect. Building positive relationships between patient and carer can improve the level of care provided.

Fairness and equality – Every patient’s dignity should be protected to ensure that a fair and equal healthcare service is being provided, no matter what their age, race, religion, sickness, or economical status may be.

How can a patient’s dignity be respected by health and social care workers?

All health and social care staff should be trained in the importance of ensuring that patient dignity is at the heart of all care services they provide.

Some of the fundamental ways that a patient’s dignity can be respected by healthcare professionals include:

Respectful communication – Healthcare workers should take care to always speak to patients as equals, no matter what their illness or mental capacity. Patients should always be addressed respectfully and politely and spoken to in a way that they will understand, without being patronised. It is equally as important to listen carefully to what patients say and respect their wishes.

Provide information – Patients should be provided with all the information they require to make informed and autonomous decisions about their own care.

Help patients to live independently – Patients should be provided with information and support that can help them to live as independently and autonomously as possible.

Provide patients with privacy – Privacy is important to patient dignity. Healthcare workers should always ask before entering a patient’s room and make sure that they pull the curtain around the bed to provide privacy before carrying out any kind of medical treatment or procedure.

Ask permission – Health and social care workers should always ask permission or give notice where possible before touching a patient, entering a patient’s room, or pulling open the curtains around their bed.

Treat patients as individuals – It is important to recognise that each patient is an individual with a past and a future, regardless of their illness and mental capacity and provide them with personalised and respectful care accordingly.

Negative consequences of not considering patient dignity in health and social care settings

When healthcare organisations fail to respect a patient’s dignity it can harm their health, mental wellbeing, and recovery.

Reasons patients may begin to feel like they are losing their dignity or that their dignity is not being respected by health or care workers include:

  • They feel their privacy has not been respected, particularly during intimate care.
  • They feel they have been spoken to disrespectfully.
  • They feel they are not being listened to.
  • They don’t feel involved in discussions and decisions about their care.

These feelings can harm the patient’s sense of self-worth and mental wellbeing, which can cause a further decline in health and delay their recovery.

Dignity in care training

Here at Care Business Associate Training, we run a popular Dignity in Care, Equality and Diversity and Care Planning Masterclass that explores what dignity is and how to advocate dignity and respect-based delivery of care.

For more information about our Dignity in Care training course, give our team a call today on 01772 816 922, send an email to admin@cba-training.co.uk, or book online to secure your place.