Ensuring Human Dignity and Respect in Nursing: A Checklist

July 6, 2022
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Treating people with dignity and respect is important in all aspects of life, but is essential when working in a care or nursing role. To treat someone with respect and dignity involves treating them as a valued individual and helps to establish an effective relationship between healthcare professionals and patients. 

In this article, we will outline what dignity and respect means in health and social care and why it is important. We will also cover some of the ways you can treat someone with dignity and respect, along with a free downloadable checklist. 

What is Dignity and Respect in Care?

Treating someone with dignity and respect means valuing them and what they believe in. In relation to nursing, treating patients with dignity and respect is specified in Regulation 10 under the Health and Social Care Act 2007. 

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) says the following about Regulation 10: 

‘When people receive care and treatment, all staff must treat them with dignity and respect at all times. This includes staff treating them in a caring and compassionate way and all communication with people using services must be respectful.’ 

This includes making sure that people have privacy, treating service users as equals and also providing any support that they need to be autonomous, independent and involved in their care and treatment. 

There are many ways you can promote dignity and respect in nursing. For example, including the patient in the decisions made about their care, addressing the patient in the way they prefer and respecting their personal space. 

It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure service users are treated with dignity and respect in nursing. As outlined by the CQC, care providers must make sure that the care and treatment they provide ensures people’s dignity and that they are treated with respect at all times. No matter your job role, if you work in a health and social care setting you have a responsibility for ensuring dignity and respect. This also falls under your duty of care as a worker in the sector. 

What are the 8 Dignity Factors?

The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) discovered through research that there are 8 main factors which promote dignity in care. Upholding good practices and principles in relation to each of these factors ensures that no one’s identity or sense of self-respect is put at risk during a period of care or treatment. It also ensures that all service users feel valued and cared for.

The 8 dignity factors are:

  1. Choice and control – enabling service users to make choices about the care and treatment they receive. 
  2. Communication – speaking to people respectfully and listening to what they have to say, this includes using their preferred method of communication. 
  3. Eating and nutritional care – providing meals that meet the service user’s needs and preferences. 
  4. Pain management – ensuring service users have the correct support and medication to manage their pain. 
  5. Personal hygiene – enabling and supporting people to maintain their usual standards of hygiene. 
  6. Practical assistance – providing service users with the correct level of support to maintain their independence. 
  7. Privacy – respecting personal space, privacy and confidentiality
  8. Social inclusion – supporting people to keep in contact with loved ones and participate in social activities where possible. 

The above factors and examples of ways to promote dignity may seem small and insignificant, however they can make a huge difference to someone receiving care or undergoing treatment. 

Why is Dignity Important in Health and Social Care?

Spending an extended period of time in care is a big change and can be difficult to adjust to, especially for those who have to surrender a great deal of their independence. This is especially true of the elderly that are looked after in care homes.

It’s your job as a healthcare professional to help those who require daily support to continue to gain enjoyment from life. If you do not provide care and treatment in a sensitive and compassionate way, you could leave your service users feeling like they’re being deprived of their dignity, even if you do so unintentionally. 

You should aim to make a person’s period of care as pleasant as possible for the entire time they’re with you. Without their dignity, a person can feel dehumanised; they can feel like their identity and value as a human being is not respected, and this stops them from enjoying life and living comfortably during a period of care or treatment. 

Care with dignity supports the person’s self-respect, recognises their capabilities and ambitions, and does nothing to undermine it. It includes respect for what they can do, who they are, and the life they’ve lived. It’s a central part of quality in care work.

How to Treat Patients with Dignity and Respect

To deliver dignified care to a patient, you need to start by asking yourself: what quality of care would I want?

If you work in health and social care, you should know how to provide dignity in care. You should understand the practices and principles that you should follow and you should treat service users with the same level of respect and quality of care that you would want for yourself, or your family members. 

To support your understanding of dignity, you should familiarise yourself with the 8 dignity factors as they make clear the areas you should address to uphold a person’s dignity. 

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Need a Training Course?

Our Dignity in Care Training will give you a strong understanding of how to uphold dignity in a care setting. This knowledge will enable you to care for service users of all ages and from all walks of life in a way that makes them feel secure, comfortable, and, most importantly, valued and respected. To further your knowledge and skills, take a look at our range of Health and Social Care Courses.

Dignity and Respect in Care Checklist

elderly patients in residential care

Using our dignity and respect checklist is a great way to start making your care setting a more dignity-conscious environment in which service users feel valued and truly cared for. 

The practices and principles you should follow are categorised under each of the dignity factors on the checklist. You can work your way through this checklist each time you assess how well your care setting is upholding people’s dignity and use it as a guide for ways to continually improve. 

Fill out the checklist on a regular basis (at least every few months), especially if any new practices or procedures come into place or existing ones change in some way. New procedures could impact on a person’s dignity without you even realising, therefore you’ll need to reassess the way you provide your services.

Download your free dignity and respect checklist below:

Using the checklist will give you a strong understanding of the various aspects you need to consider for fulfilling each factor. These are intrinsic to upholding a person’s dignity, delivering quality care, and improving a person’s quality of life while they’re in your care.

Dignity and respect are crucial in nursing and an essential part of delivering high-quality care. If you work in the health and social care sector, you are responsible for ensuring service users are cared for in a way that is respectful and dignified. To help you do this, use our dignity and respect checklist to assess your organisation and make improvements where necessary.

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