Dignity Charter to reduce abuse in care

Sylvia Strong and Councillor Rose Williams with the Dignity Charter The charter asks caring organisations to commit to 12 specific pledges

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.

A Charter for Dignity

  • Zero tolerance of abuse
  • Not stereotyping or labelling
  • Honest and polite communication
  • Respecting privacy
  • Treating people as individuals and with respect
  • Taking time to communicate
  • Enabling maximum independence
  • Involving people in planning
  • Acting on loneliness
  • Not using jargon
  • Apologising for mistakes
  • Giving the opportunity for feedback
More Cash

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.

Peter Henley Article written by Peter Henley Peter Henley Political editor, South of England

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    Comment number 1.

    A key factor to dignity in care is the quality of the staff. Unless care providers can improve the quality of staff by being able to offer better wages, improvements in standards will be slow to materialise. Care providers can be faced with impossible choices where funding for residential care is being cut in real terms. The govt wants to have its cake and eat it too.



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