What do you understand by dignity? The word itself sounds old-fashioned. For vulnerable adults, though, it’s a quality in short-supply.
The Dignity Charter drawn up this week by Reading Borough Council aims to restore a sense of worth, a sense of mutual respect.
Ensuring privacy, autonomy, treating individuals the way they wish to be treated are central to the pledge that carers have been making.
The charter asks caring organisations to commit to 12 specific pledges.
Council officers will monitor them to make sure they are meeting the standards they have promised to keep.At the launch event Councillor Rose Williams said: “The health, well-being and dignity of vulnerable residents is of the highest priority to the council and this is why this campaign is so important.”
Charities for older people are not so sure.
Age UK Berkshire said they welcomed anything that will improve the way older people are treated, in hospital and in care homes.But director Mike Allen said more money for services would make a difference too, extending the time of caring appointments at home, for example, beyond a 15 minute limit.
There’s little spare cash in council coffers, of course. For longer appointments or better regulation.The Quality Care Commission (CQC) is responsible for inspections. Nationally nearly a third of caring organisations have at least one area of concern.
In Reading it is more like a 10% failure rate, but a spokesperson for the CQC welcomed the dignity charter, saying “People are entitled to receive care which respects their privacy and dignity, promotes their welfare and keeps them safe from harm.”
Often providing dignity can be a small thing – speaking to people with respect, knocking before staff enter bedrooms and calling people by their preferred names.
But in a busy, de-personalised world, restoring that dignity is often the most important thing a carer can provide.
Nearest tube: Elephant & Castle underground station (Northern and Bakerloo lines).
Nearest Railway Station: Elephant & Castle
Buses from Elephant and Castle: ask bus driver for Burgess Park. Bus numbers: 12, 171, 148, 176, 68, 484, 42, 40, 45