Former NHS Nurse and manager now contemplating the NHS from outside

It should be part of human nature to treat people in the way you would like to be treated yourself. For those of us who put ourselves forward for some kind of public service, this is an important quality. Respecting the views of others, listening, giving people privacy, helping those unable provide for their own basic needs are all things that those of us working in the caring professions should consider. These things should go without saying. Why then did I spend my morning at a dignity workshop?

It doesn’t hurt to be reminded that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity. This includes friends, colleagues, and those we encounter in our working lives. How often have you done something for someone else only to be greeted by someone who is not a bit grateful? On the other hand how often have you thought of your own needs over those of others? Nurses, doctors, paramedics, therapists, all professionals providing healthcare (there are many others), but do we all consider the needs of our patients before we speak or act? Do we always do everything we can for others and do they actually respect us in return? In the main I believe that most of us do think about the needs of others, we treat people with the respect and dignity of others and that respect and dignity is reciprocated. Sometimes though this doesn’t happen. Today I heard anecdotes of a nurse taking the blood pressure of a patient, wearing gloves and without speaking to the patient, of doctors not imagining people need to have their condition and treatment explained to them, of people having their bodies exposed to whole wards and this was just examples given by health care professionals in their private lives.

It is sad that the government is having to launch yet another initiative, this time about dignity, it is annoying that this might yet turn into another tick box audit type issue. It would be easy to say that the nurses / doctors / etc are just less caring, that they are in some way falling short. But actually is this more of an incitement of our society. After all we don’t necessarily generally treat teenagers, old people, or single mothers with any kind of respect, so why should we be surprised that dignity and respect might be something needing to be taught.

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Comments on: "Treating people with dignity" (10)

  1. Mrs Jobbing Doctor, who teaches Mathematics in a huge secondary school (2,000 pupils) faces enormous stress and aggravation, simply because respect is not there. We have a debrief at the end of the day (for you younger types this is not as sexy as it sounds). I recount the ups and downs of a day as a jobbing doctor – the thanks, the problems, the successes: Mrs JD spends her time telling me about some dreadfully behaved teenager, and what is worse, their ghastly parent.

    I want her to retire. Tomorrow. We can cope on my salary.

    Respect. I get it. She doesn’t. That’s not right.

  2. I must agree JD, I have heard some terrible things via my son’s school and am glad I made the choice of nursing. Even being accused of being the devil incarnate PCT person by a paediatrician is less bad than my son’s IT teacher being physically attacked by a parent for no apparent reason.

    Conversely my own son arrived home from school at 6pm this evening having spent 2.5 hours with colleagues doing course work for AS levels; popular press would have had him and his hoody out terrorising the local population.

  3. […] Treating people with dignity …of people having their bodies exposed to whole wards and this was just examples given by health care professionals in their private lives. […]

  4. I agree. As society goes, so goes professional behavior. Organizations need to do a better job of understanding social trends and designing core education that addresses those trends.

  5. Compassion, care and respect is not something you can not mandate but it is something you can teach. Organizations need to lead by example so that the expectation of compassionate behaviour towards one another exists from the top-down. I think the leaders of organizations need to be realistic that when they are willing to compromise quality for speed and access so will everyone else. As caregivers we’re [usually] naturally compassionate as long as the system will give us time. Here’s a great example: “please get undressed and wait [in you’re underwear] for the doctor”. Don’t want to waste his/her time right?

    Speed comes with a price and unless there’s a culture in the organization regarding behavioural expectations dignity will suffer.

  6. I completely agree Ian. At the session on Friday I heard from people whose organization don’t guarantee them protected meal times and who had been expected to attend the thing on their day off yet, were apparently thinking they would wholeheartedly buy into the philosophy of dignity for their patients.

  7. I agree an organisation needs to teach people through day to day practice of how to treat people with respect. While somethings are common sense, some things are not. For example, many patients, especially older ones, loathe being called by their first name without being asked if this is okay. But many young people have grown up in environments where first names are used automatically.

  8. […] are something we all expect, yet only too often some of us don’t seem prepared to offer. My own post about this subject asks whether this is a reflection on society, and wonders why we need to teach […]

  9. […] the only ones talking about the government’s new Dignity in Care campaign. Life in the NHS is discussing it too. In the main I believe that most of us do think about the needs of others, we treat people with the […]

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