Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations states that:

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and right.  They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

The words are familiar, but the reference to dignity perhaps does not get as much attention as it might – particularly for those who are in hospital or residential care.  The Social Care Institute for Excellence has published its own guidance on the subject which says:

“Dignity is at the heart of personalisation. Dignity means treating people who need care as individuals and enabling them to maintain the maximum possible level of independence, choice and control over their own lives. It means that professionals should support people with the respect they would want for themselves or a member of their family.”

I recently met representatives of the National Dignity Council who persuaded me to become a Dignity Champion.  As they explained:

“A Dignity Champion is someone who believes passionately that being treated with dignity is a basic human right, not an optional extra. They believe that care services must be compassionate, person centred, as well as efficient, and are willing to try to do something to achieve this.

Dignity Champions are willing to:

    • stand up and challenge disrespectful behaviour rather than just tolerate it;
    • act as good role models by treating other people with respect, particularly those who are less able to stand up for themselves;
    • speak up about Dignity to improve the way that services are organised and delivered;
    • influence and inform colleagues;
    • listen to and understand the views and experiences of citizens.

Champions are all committed to taking action, however small, to create a care system that has compassion and respect for those using its services. Each Dignity Champion’s role varies depending on their knowledge and influence and the type of work they are involved in. There are many small things that you can do that can have a big impact on people’s lives, as well as taking on a more active role if you have the time to do so.

Dignity Champions include health and social care managers and frontline staff. They also include doctors, dieticians, porters, care workers in care homes, MPs, councillors, members of local action groups and Local Involvement Networks (LINks), and people from voluntary and advocacy organisations. People who use care services, their relatives and carers as well as members of the public are becoming Dignity Champions.”

I am prepared to play my part and join what I am told are 35,000 Champions already recruited around the country.

Are you?

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