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How To Maintain Dignity In Health And Social Care

George Griffiths

10 June 2021

How To Maintain Dignity In Health And Social Care

George Griffiths

10 June 2021

Dignity is a cornerstone of excellent health and social care practice - and a key benchmark of CQC registrations and inspections.

But, for care home managers or personal care providers, are there steps you can take to ensure you're offering the best possible practice in safeguarding the dignity of your patients or residents?

In this blog we explore dignity in health and social care and what that means for the everyday care environment.

UK regulations on privacy and dignity in care

First up, let's recap the CQC requirements. 

These guidelines might be pretty general, but they're a vital component in ensuring your care facility meets the threshold for achieving an outstanding service report.

The Care Quality Commission states that care organisations should:

Care providers must uphold those standards of dignity in health and social care across the board, with rules backed by CQC Regulation 10, the Health and Social Care Act 2008 and the Equality Act 2010.

The CQC can refuse registration applications or take regulatory action if their inspections show that an organisation isn't doing enough.

However, it can be a bit of a grey area. Independent care providers will always have different protocols and ways of doing things.

It's not only about compliance, but about excellent standards, patient satisfaction, staff morale and supporting care recipients in the way that most meets their needs.

So, when we're looking at how to maintain privacy and dignity when providing personal care, it's essential not only to consider those regulatory guidelines but also to reflect on how they apply to your work environment.

Why dignity in health and social care is crucial

It's no big secret that many social care professionals are massively overstretched!

Rushing through assessments, applying the same care plan to multiple patients, or not having time to consult carefully with every resident can all lead to severe outcomes. They could mean that, even inadvertently, their dignity isn't being protected.

Dignity in health and social care is critical - here's why it matters so much.

Living in care can be challenging

Nobody wants to lose their independence or need help with everyday chores. 

Helping people maintain their dignity is imperative to ensure this doesn't adversely affect their quality of life.

Helping with personal care requires close physical contact

Simple tasks such as bathing require a care professional to see a person naked. They must also help them with intimate care, which is essential for personal hygiene and health.

Many elderly or mobility-restricted patients may also suffer from incontinence. Therefore, any hint of a lack of respect can negatively impact their mental health and self-esteem.

Care professionals must approach those roles with dignity and respect. They should ensure a person who needs support isn't left feeling embarrassed and that they have lost control.

Residential environments are a home

While care staff consider a nursing home or other facility a workplace, they must never lose sight that this is a permanent home for many of the people they care for.

Every individual has a different background, lifestyle, interests, culture and value system. Care workers should always respect this to ensure residents feel comfortable in their living environment.

Therefore, privacy and dignity in care are crucial. They ensure every patient feels comfortable, relaxed, supported and respected - whatever care they require to stay healthy.

dignity in health and social care

How to maintain privacy and dignity when providing personal care

So, we've explored the regulatory requirements and why dignity in health and social care is such a fundamental requirement - but how can you enforce those priorities and ensure every patient receives the same respect?

Dignity covers several primary areas:

  1. Choice and control

Being consulted, asked to make decisions, having the right to say what the person wants or feels will best meet their needs. 

Person-centred care is essential and results in the empowerment of the individual to make choices about how they receive care and what that might look like.

  1. Communication 

Great care is a collaboration between the individual and their support workers, so there must always be ongoing and open communication. 

Not knowing what is happening can cause fear, anxiety, confusion and distress.

  1. Nutrition 

Many people have dietary requirements and must have control over their food choices. 

That could be for medical, spiritual, cultural or religious reasons or simply the entitlement to say what they like and what they don't!

  1. Pain management 

Individuals with chronic pain or conditions such as arthritis will typically require support with pain management. 

Care professionals should administer this support with compassion and act responsively when any person reports discomfort or pain.

  1. Personal hygiene 

One of the main areas of care where professionals have the opportunity to promote the highest standards of dignity is by helping people with personal hygiene. 

That means attentiveness, kindness, compassion, and ensuring nobody ever feels they are in an undignified position.

  1. Practical support 

Care recipients might need help with reading, writing, walking, playing games, socialising, exercise - anything they enjoy doing or that is beneficial to their welfare. 

Practical assistance must be tailored to the individual and support their wishes and requirements.

  1. Privacy 

Again, a caring environment is a home to residents. 

They have the right to privacy when sleeping, relaxing, reading, meeting family members, bathing, using bathroom facilities or when they would like some time to themselves. 

Any checks should always be sensitive and avoid causing a disturbance or an unannounced intrusion, such as spot checks during the night.

  1. Socialisation 

Many people need support during older years or have limitations on their ability to travel, move, or interact. This can lead to feelings of loneliness or isolation.

Care professionals must recognise the value of social inclusion. They should ensure nobody is ever left out or excluded because they don't have the help available to get involved.

By assessing each of these critical elements of dignity in health and social care, professionals and managers can evaluate their practice and make any adjustments required.

Outstanding privacy and dignity in care benefits everyone. It creates happier environments where patients feel respected, and staff know they are providing the best support possible. 

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