Dignity in Care

Dignity, Older People, Health & Social Care

Maintaining human dignity, particularly in the face of adversity, is a core human value. Respect for personal identity is one of the critical aspects of dignity that has to be addressed in health and social care. Human caring and human values are important but can be eroded by increased reliance and focus on mechanistic approaches to procedures, technological innovation and monitoring of quality.

Fragmentation of health and social care, scarcity of resources and reductionist approaches can all dehumanise and desensitise staff. In health and social care, these factors have sometimes led to people being treated as objects, rather than as individual human beings, resulting in detrimental effects on their well-being.

Dignity as a Fundamental Human Right

The first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, (1948), states:

“All human beings are born free, equal in dignity and human rights”.

Similarly, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (2000) has as its first article

‘The dignity of the human person must be respected and protected’.

Yet the human rights of older people are sometimes violated and ignored when entering health and social care facilities.

The core human rights that all health care professionals and workers must recognise are the right to freedom, the right to respect for one’s dignity and the right to be treated with equality and fairness.

All health care professionals and workers have a legal duty to protect the individual’s Human Rights.

What are we doing in Wales?

In Wales, the National Dignity in Care Programme was launched on October 1st 2007.

Since then numerous examples of practice worth sharing in dignity in care have been collected in Wales. These can be found in the document below:
Aneurin Bevan Health Board's Dignity in Care Campaign is called “Look closer, See Me”. You can find out more below:

Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board has been taking the Dignity in Care Programme forward with a local initiative between partners in Anglesey.

Cwm Taf Health Board has created a Dignity Pledge to ensure a better patient experience while in hospital. 
Cardiff and Vale Health Board has published a report on promoting dignity and respect.
The British Society of Gerontology was established in 1971. It provides a multidisciplinary forum for researchers and other individuals interested in the situations of older people, and in how knowledge about ageing and later life can be enhanced and improved.