Everyone supported by social care services has the right to be treated with dignity

A woman sits down in a supported living environment. Another woman stands next to her. They are smiling and communicating

Today is national Dignity Action Day. This prompted me to reflect on what ‘dignity’ means to Sense, and how we ensure the people who use our services are treated with dignity and respect.

As the Head of the Quality at Sense, improving outcomes for the people using our services and developing the quality of the services we provide is a priority. Dignity is key to this. It is something that we all value and have come to expect in our daily lives. It is no different for people who use care and support services. It is important that people feel like they matter and that their unique and individual contribution is valued. This applies to everyone and dignity is everybody’s business.

The purpose of this national action day is to prompt the over 2 million people who work in health and social care services to promote the rights of the people they support to have dignity, respect and control over their day to day lives. The action day serves as a reminder for us to take practical steps to ensure that the care and support services we provide make a real difference to the lives of the people we support.

Dignity is key to Sense’s services

Working for Sense, it is easy to show how dignity underpins everything we do. Our values, behaviours and expectations set out in Sense’s vision and I-Statements reflect our commitment to respect, involving people in decisions and valuing their contribution. Our vision of a world where no one with complex communication needs is isolated, left out or unable to fulfil their potential is key to the idea of dignity. This is central to our approach and the way we develop services.

At Touchbase Pears, our multi-purpose venue in Birmingham, Sense provides opportunities for the whole community to come together to work, develop and enjoy themselves, and builds on people’s strengths and contribution. This has created work and volunteering opportunities for the people we support alongside social, leisure and art activities. It has increased the profile and presence of the people we support within their local community, and in turn, friendships, relationships based on respect and dignity have developed.

Through our approaches to communication and personalisation, we are able to really understand a person’s needs and the outcomes they want to achieve in their lives.

Dignity is about taking real action to listen and hear the person’s own views of their needs and aspirations, and to put into practice support that’s based on what they are telling us. It’s about understanding what works in providing the best support for the person and building on that success. It’s also about identifying the things that don’t work, or make sense to the person, and changing their support accordingly. Our approach to person centred thinking ensures that we are asking these questions all of the time. In turn, this not only helps us to provide a responsive and quality service, but also makes a huge difference to the person’s sense of self, independence and well-being.

Demonstrating the outcomes and impact of our work is one of our strategic priorities. The ‘Dignity Do’s’ set out by the Dignity in Care Campaign provide a useful framework for us to reflect on, and evidence how we promote people’s right to dignity, privacy and respect. On a practical level, we are asking our services to review the support they provide against the ‘Dignity Do’s’. We are also launching a training programme on privacy and dignity for all of our staff to understand their role in promoting and safeguarding dignity.

At Sense, we are truly committed to promoting upholding people’s rights to dignity and respect but are also pleased to contribute to the dignity of the people we support but are also proud to support this national day of celebration. For more information about National Dignity Action Day, go to www.dignityincare.org.uk

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Author: Jonathan Monk

Jonathan is the Head of Quality at Sense

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