Dignity Dignity is concerned with how people feel, think and behave in relation to the worth or value of themselves and others. To treat someone with dignity is to treat them as being of worth, in a way that is respectful of them as valued individuals. In care situations, dignity may be promoted or diminished by: the physical environment; organisational culture; by the attitudes and behaviour of the nursing team and others and by the way in which care activities are carried out. When dignity is present people feel in control, valued, confident, comfortable and able to make decisions for themselves. When dignity is absent people feel devalued, lacking control and comfort. They may lack confidence and be unable to make decisions for themselves. They may feel humiliated, embarrassed or ashamed. Dignity applies equally to those who have capacity and to those who lack it. Everyone has equal worth as human beings and must be treated as id they are able to feel, think and behave in relation to their own worth or value. The nursing team should, therefore, treat all people in all settings and of any health status with dignity, and dignified care should continue after death.
The Dignity Challenge High Quality services that respect peoples dignity should: Have a zero tolerance of all forms of abuse Support people with the same respect you would want for yourself or a member of your family Treat each person as an individual by offering a personalised service Enable people to maintain the maximum possible level of independence, choice, and control Listen and support people to express their needs and wants Respect peoples right to privacy Ensure people feel able to complain without fear of retribution Engage with family members and carers as care partners Assist people to maintain confidence and a positive self esteem Act to alleviate peoples loneliness and isolation
See Me What do you see Carers, what do you see? What are you thinking when you look at me? A crabbit old woman, not very wise Uncertain of habit, with far away eyes. Who dribbles her food and makes no reply When you say in a loud voice "I do wish you would try Who seems not to notice the things that you do And forever is losing a stocking or shoe Who, unresisting or not, lets you do as you will with bathing and feeding the long day to fill Is that what you're thinking, is that what you see? Then open your eyes, you are not looking at ME. I'll tell you who I am as I sit here so still As I move at your bidding, as I eat at your will. I'm a small child of ten with a father and mother, brothers and sisters who love one another. A young girl at sixteen with wings on her feet dreaming of soon now a lover she'll meet. A bride soon at twenty - my heart gives a leap remembering the vows that I promised to keep. At twenty-five now I have young of my own who need me to build a secure happy home. A woman of thirty my young grow fast bound to each other with ties that should last. At forty, my young now soon will be gone but my man stays beside me to see I don't mourn. At fifty once more babies play round my knee again we know children, my loved one and me. Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead I look at the future, I shudder with dread. For my young are all busy rearing young of their own and I think of the years and the love I have known. I'm an old woman now and nature is cruel, 'tis her jest to make old age look like a fool. The body it crumbles, grace and vigour depart and now there's a stone where I once had a heart. But, inside this old carcass, a young girl still dwells and now and again my battered heart swells. I remember the joys, I remember the pain, and I'm loving and living life over again. I think of the years all too few - gone so fast and accept the stark fact that nothing can last. So open your eyes, Carers, open and see not a crabbit old woman, look closer - see ME. Phyllis McCormack
Nurses reply What do we see, you ask, what do we see? Yes, we are thinking when looking at thee! We may seem to be hard when we hurry and fuss, But theres many of you, and too few of us. We would like far more time to sit by you and talk, To bath you and feed you and help you to walk. To hear of your lives and the things you have done; Your childhood, your husband, your daughter, your son. But time is against us, theres too much to do – Patients too many, and the nurses too few. We grieve when we see you so sad and alone, With nobody near you, no friends of your own. We feel all your pain, and know of your fear That nobody cares now your end is so near. But nurses are people with feelings as well, And when were together youll often hear tell Of the dearest old Gran in the very end bed, And the lovely old Dad, and the things that he said, We speak with compassion and love, and feel sad When we think of your lives and the joy that youve had. When the time has arrived for you to depart, You leave us behind with an ache in our heart. When you sleep the long sleep, no more worry or care, There are other old people, and we must be there. So please understand if we hurry and fuss – there are many of you, and so few of us.