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#WeNurses - What is dignity?

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Did you miss the latest #WeNurses chat which discussed dignity? Let us sum it up for you…

I have had a question rolling around in my head for some weeks now - in fact it’s been there since Energise for Excellence and NHS London first suggested the latest #WeNurses chat. The question is: ‘do I provide dignified care when I nurse?’ Of course, I do all the little things that matter - ensuring my patients are addressed correctly, that they aren’t exposed, that I respect their privacy and that I ensure my patients lead in their own care. However, how can I really be sure that my patients feel that they have been cared for in a way that is dignified for them? The latest #WeNurses chat was a warm up to the Energise for Excellence and NHS London Dignity Week Of Action and set out to explore some of the issues around dignity.

The chat started with @WeNurses setting a challenge“: “In 140 characters …what is Dignity?”

@timcoupland tweeted “#dignityinaction hard to define but so easy to see!”

@michellemellor3 said “Dignity is one of the fundamentals of #nursing care! Integral to nursing”

@LeggeAngie said “Dignity is treating everyone with respect and courtesy”

@DGFoord stated “Dignity is recognising the uniqueness of the person you’re engaging with & treating them how THEY wish to be treated”

@PhilipRABall said “#dignity is acknowledging that each of us has worth that is respected and allowed to express itself through choices”

@KathEvans2 states “Dignity to me is is about time, patience, kindness & respect”

@YvonneFranks7 said “Hello everyone - dignity is a feeling of safety and trust”

@FloNursingtales tweeted “Dignity is about acknowledging a person’s self worth, and the desire to honor it in every way possible.”

Throughout the discussion #WeNurse chatters mentioned how important the little things are:

@PhilipRABall tweeted “#dignity is often in the small actions, serving food & drink, being quiet, checking the pillows, just being with…”

@salsa442 said “Should always knock, basics of dignity are the simplest and everyone should do them at all times”

@MandyHollis3 stated “It’s the simple things that don’t cost money or even much time that are dignity.”

@FloNursingtales stated “The little things we take 4 granted make such a difference: calling people by their name, gaining INFORMED consent etc” and then added “Patients referred to by their conditions as opposed to their names - hate that!”

@cherylwilson2 added “Addressing someone how they wish to be known right from the first meeting particularly #eldercare mrs /mr etc”

@Bartontd stated “Nursing - the humanity of holding a hand, patience with the irrational & angry, dry tears of the crying, make the sad laugh.”

@MMelloE4E then asked “Who is judging whether or not the care is dignified? how do we know we have met the person’s needs?”

@DGFoord responded “Only a patient can judge level of dignity, but even then need to be supported as some may have low expectations”

@michellemellor3 answered “The patient themselves. Nurses need to be sensitive to pts feelings, non verbal cues”

@nurse_jane21 tweeted “Ask your patient!!!!”

@PhilipRABall said “#dignity check ask yourself, your peers, as well as the people in your #care are you a #dignitychampion?”

@catmichelle76 a student nurse then asked ”..I’m concerned about if/when/how to challenge compromises in client dignity/care but I will do it”

@MMelloE4E responded “6Cs - courage!”

@salsa442 said “Must be made as soon as poss after incident, but not in front of pt, I say “walk with me please” and then I challenge”

@DGFoord tweeted “We should all be dignity champions & challenge dignity-depriving behaviours, but this isn’t always easy to do”

@michellemellor3 said “Nurses should advocate #dignity for their patient. Remind others who do not!”

@JuneinHE stated “Challenge what u see.Not in front of patient, but let other person know that u felt they behaved inappropriately” and went on to add “If u challenge inappropriate action professionally & respecting other person’s dignity u make twice the point!”

@YvonneFranks7 said “If you ignore poor practice and do nothing you are colluding with it”

@MMelloE4E then asked “We all think it’s important but how do we get others on board?”

@salsa442 answered “Positive role modeling and strong leadership when on shift”

@AgencyNurse tweeted “We watch, we listen, we lead the way, we show them how and keep talking”

@PhilipRABall said “Get others on board by #dignity example in own life”

@michellemellor3 stated “Remind people about dignity, be a good role model, mentoring others, champion dignity”

In the final minutes of the chat @WeNurses asked “What will each of you do as a result of this chat?”

@FloNursingtales said “Treat people as individuals with honor & value, & enable them to achieve or maintain independence helps preserve their dignity”

@YvonneFranks7 stated “Going to use the themes from all your chats at our dignity conference in London on Friday 12th”

@PhilipRABall said “Use #dignity watchword as I work with others, be exemplar, #dignitychampion consider what the #firstimpresion I’ll give will be”

@MandyHollis3 tweeted “Going to talk to our DoN about how we can develop role model behaviours & sorry 2 bang on but look @ Nurse Clinical Supervision”

@TildaMc added “Remember it could be me.”

It seems to me that dignity really is a personal thing, which explains why it is so difficult to measure and why my question - ‘do I provide dignified care when I nurse?’ - has been on my mind.

@e1ucidate tweeted “Apart from in the perception of its recipient #dignity is most readily recognisable when it is absent”

In my opinion @e1ucidate has a very valid point - we can easily see when there is a loss of dignity in care but how can we see when we do it well? For me, it is about listening to verbal and non-verbal cues, knowing my patient and their likes and dislikes, and picking up on all the little things.

So, do I provide care in a way that promotes dignity? I can confidently conclude that yes, I do. I know this because of what my patients say - and what they don’t say. I am proud that I care with dignity and to nurse in any other way would be a travesty, and because of this I will keep talking to people and promoting dignity. I encourage you - during this Dignity Week Of Action and beyond - to take time to not only think about dignity, but also act on dignity.

Teresa Chinn is a nurse, a blogger and social media specialist and leads the #WeNurses discussions for WeNurses. Follow @WeNurses on Twitter.

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