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Dignity Action Day, organised by Dignity in Care, upholds people’s rights to dignity. Here’s what it means to SweetTree Home Care Services.
Dignity Action Day is an annual event that emphasises the importance of upholding people’s rights to dignity. Its aim is to ensure that those who use care services are treated as individuals, as well as being given choice, control and a sense of purpose in their lives. It is also a means of reminding the public that care staff have the right to be treated with respect and dignity, too.
At SweetTree, the understanding of dignity covers all these aspects, from the way clients are treated as individuals, with care and respect, through to the fact that all staff members are valued in the work they do.
“People who feel valued will value others,” says Nicki Bones, Operations Director at SweetTree. “So, if a support worker feels valued in the work they do and they’re approached in a dignified manner, it will have a positive knock-on effect to the way they treat clients. This is so important when it comes to quality of care.”
Indeed, treating staff with dignity is of vital importance at SweetTree, where support, respect, understanding and the opportunity for growth are paramount.
“It’s about ongoing support,” says Nicki. “It’s about ongoing understanding, ongoing facilitation, ongoing value in their career and ongoing ‘thank you’. It’s about telling people that they did an incredible job. It’s about never asking anybody to do something you wouldn’t do yourself.”
This respect for staff indeed filters through to client care, where listening to clients and respecting their wishes is highly valued.
“Valuing our clients means valuing that person and also understanding what dignity means for that individual,” Nicki explains. “When you work with a client – when you really know and understand them – you discover what’s right and what’s not right for them. Dignity is not about taking over somebody’s life; it’s about not outpacing somebody. It’s about enabling somebody to be fulfilled in their life. It’s about listening to them and doing what they want. In that sense, for me, dignity is about truly listening to and understanding people.”
With this in mind, SweetTree puts a large emphasis on placing clients with the most appropriate carer for them, to ensure dignity and respect is upheld.
“We consistently work to ensure our clients are matched with the most suitable carer, so that when we’re arranging for a support worker to provide care, it’s because they have the right knowledge, skills and experience to work with that individual, not simply because their postcode is nearby. It’s also important that some of their interests are well-matched. We’ve had instances in the past where both the team member and client are interested in art, so they have a common ground. This results in having diverse and interesting conversations together, but also in enjoying visits to museums and art galleries together. We try to match personalities and interests as well as knowledge, skills and experience. For me, consistency is important, so the client has the opportunity to build a values-based relationship with their carer.”
Of course, in the world of care, when it comes to treating clients with dignity it’s also important to consider personal hygiene.
“This comes down to the very basic and straightforward ways in which we make sure somebody feels comfortable,” says Nicki. “For example, that they are covered up appropriately, that language around personal hygiene is appropriate, and that the carer explains beforehand what they are going to do. Mainly, however, it’s about offering choice and listening to how the person would like to be supported in this way. We all wash our faces differently; we all wash our hands differently; we all want to express ourselves through our clothing differently. So it’s about ensuring the team member is truly listening to what the client wants, not what the team member thinks might be easiest or what the team member thinks the client wants. Truly listening to somebody is so valuable.”
Ultimately, giving both clients and staff members control, choice and a true sense that they are valued makes for the happiest environment for everybody – which is what Dignity Action Day aims to bring to light.
“Treating somebody with dignity is about listening, rapport, understanding and patience,” says Nicki. After all, isn’t that how we would all like to be treated?
For more information, please visit Dignity in Care.