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Hospital nurses begin using 'dignity pegs'

Nurses at north Cumbria’s two hospitals have introduced a new scheme on their wards to try and protect the privacy and dignity of all patients.

North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust launched “red dignity pegs” on 1 February, to coincide with Dignity Action Day.

The pegs will be used in the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven.

They are intended to maintain privacy and dignity by ensuring curtains and screens are closed properly with the use of a red peg. “Care in progress” signs will also be connected to the pegs.

The red pegs will be stored at bedsides and will be cleaned after every use.

Gill Long, the trust’s Productive Ward co-ordinator, said: “We hope that the introduction of the red dignity pegs will not only ensure the curtains are closed properly, but make staff stop and think about patients dignity before they go through a closed curtain.”

Readers' comments (22)

  • Little One

    We've had red dignity pegs and 'Care in Progress' signs for years! They don't make any difference at all, staff still stick their heads round the curtains and ask "have you got the keys?" or "is Jayne in here?" or "can you help with X, Y and Z?" and do not provide the patients any more privacy or dignity. Relatives then see Nurses, Doctors, OTs and Physios ignoring the red dignity pegs and do so themselves, and are surprised when they find Auntie Elsie on the commode. We need to retrain Nurses to THINK before they open the curtains, regardless of what they need (unless in an emergency).

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  • Royal Berkshire has had them for ages - they make some difference and it is nice to see that we are trying to improve things!

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  • Little One - we have had them in East Kent for years as well.

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  • Is it possible to attach the peg and signage from inside the curtains, or do you have to get someone outside to do it?

    Must look very funny if you have to stick your head and arms through from the inside to attach them. LOL

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  • Is it just me but aren't curtains themselves a pretty big indication that privacy is needed?

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  • Anonymous | 13-Feb-2012 6:58 pm

    well said, isn't that what they are for.

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  • Anonymous | 13-Feb-2012 6:58 pm
    and
    Anonymous | 13-Feb-2012 7:09 pm

    Absolutely right!!

    Red pegs.......I despair!

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  • Little One

    Anonymous | 13-Feb-2012 6:58 pm

    "Is it just me but aren't curtains themselves a pretty big indication that privacy is needed? "


    In a mixed bay with just curtains would you as a patient be comfortable that no one could see you when you were on the commode? Even in a single sex bay I would be worried that a gap in the curtains might appear and people could see me. Not only that but everyone appears to have gotten so used to the curtains being closed that people just ignore them and poke their heads round anyway, I've seen plenty of staff doing it, the red pegs are supposed to stop them from doing that.

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  • Little One | 14-Feb-2012 10:39 am

    The red pegs make no difference. They are ignored just as much.

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  • Little One

    Anonymous | 14-Feb-2012 9:41 pm

    "The red pegs make no difference. They are ignored just as much."

    That may be so but if used correctly staff would have to physically remove the pegs to open the curtains, and when they are newly introduced I do think they make a difference, it's just keeping up the momentum once they've been in place for a few months/years.

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  • Little One | 14-Feb-2012 10:26 pm

    And if they respected and used correctly 'closed curtains' in the first place, there would be no requirement to add an unnecessary step.

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  • what do you think people did before they had these 'dignity pegs'?

    I have never seen them but I am not sure if I was a patient I would wish to advertise to everybody that I was on a bedpan or a commode. Perhaps there would be more dignity without them as there used to be with the curtains properly closed.

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  • Little One

    Anonymous | 14-Feb-2012 10:41 pm

    "And if they respected and used correctly 'closed curtains' in the first place, there would be no requirement to add an unnecessary step."

    I can only say what I think, especially having been a patient, in a bay, where I was terrified that someone would walk past the curtains and disturb them and everyone could see me. And I have seen, time after time, Nurses not closing curtains properly, or disturbing the curtains, or poking their heads round and asking staff and patients for things. If Nurses were using correctly closed curtains, these dignity pegs would be unncessary but obviously, more people are ignoring them.

    Anonymous | 14-Feb-2012 10:47 pm

    "I have never seen them but I am not sure if I was a patient I would wish to advertise to everybody that I was on a bedpan or a commode. Perhaps there would be more dignity without them as there used to be with the curtains properly closed."

    Everyone knows what is happening when you close the curtains anyway! Not to mention the fact the curtains are not soundproof so if you sit on the commode or bedpan, half the bay can hear you!

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  • well, Little One, if I was the patient behind the curtains I would try avoiding using bedpans and commodes during visiting times and doctors rounds as far as possible. I supposed other patients and the nurses are more used to hearing you and it might be very slightly less embarrassing!

    I really can't imagine pegs being used any better than drawing the curtains it just needs more discipline on the part of the staff.

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  • Wouldn't it be nice if we recognised a problem and improved performance without pegs, books, targets, signed pledges and made up jobs entitled 'clinical lead for red pegs and dignity' or whatever other nonsense this type of thing brings.

    Of my own free will I vow never to peak around closed curtains.

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  • Little One | 14-Feb-2012 10:58 pm
    from
    Anonymous | 14-Feb-2012 10:41 pm

    I would draw your attention to your first post. By your own admission, "They don't make any difference at all......"

    I have been a patient too and it hasn't changed my view that red pegs are useless.


    Anonymous | 15-Feb-2012 6:56 pm

    I couldn't agree more.

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  • Anonymous | 15-Feb-2012 6:56 pm

    I agree. Instead of relying on all these gadgets and props, people should take more responsibility for their actions. I think the coloured trays and jug lids mentioned in another post may be a good idea though and that tabards for drug rounds should be tried and tested before discounting them. The only thing I wonder with the trays and jugs is that once the novelty has worn off they will just fade into the background or go unnoticed or there simply won't be enough staff to act on them.

    It seems the more gadgets there are to replace good practice the more they will become commonplace and ignored.

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  • Little One

    Anonymous | 15-Feb-2012 7:57 pm

    "I would draw your attention to your first post. By your own admission, "They don't make any difference at all......"

    I have been a patient too and it hasn't changed my view that red pegs are useless."

    They aren't anymore, because people seem to be so blasé about opening curtains that are closed, no matter what device is used, but when they were first introduced we never got interrupted.

    Anonymous | 14-Feb-2012 11:04 pm

    "well, Little One, if I was the patient behind the curtains I would try avoiding using bedpans and commodes during visiting times and doctors rounds as far as possible. I supposed other patients and the nurses are more used to hearing you and it might be very slightly less embarrassing!"

    And if you can't wait? If you can't time your toilet habits to avoid breakfast, lunch, dinner, two visiting times and a doctor's round? I'd still be mortified of other patients hearing me, regardless of whether or not they were 'used to' it!




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  • "I'd still be mortified of other patients hearing me, regardless of whether or not they were 'used to' it!"

    so would i but where there is little choice, and no other better solutions, I would prefer this to complete strangers on the ward. after many are in the same boat.

    The red pegs aren't going to solve this particular problem!

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  • Anonymous | 15-Feb-2012 7:58 pm

    Which brings me back to my original point. Red pegs are useless!! You are arguing in circles here.

    A lot of useless ideas start out appearing to be a good idea.....but aren't. Gimmicks are seldom helpful in effecting behaviour change.

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