Dignity. It’s a tough thing to define at times, but it’s something we are all entitled to as human beings – we all need to feel worthy and respected. For vulnerable populations, they can feel like they have lost some of it.
At its very foundation, your role as a care and support professional is to assist clients in a way that allows them to regain or uphold their dignity. To ensure that they feel that they’re in control of their own life.
The sense of dignity can come about in many ways in the care and support world, but here are ways that we feel are going to be the most applicable for you.
Care for the whole
The physical needs of your client will often be the first thing that you address when delivering care. It’s important not to get caught up in a task based approach and focus on delivering a holistic care experience.
What is this experience? It’s essentially person centred care. Every facet of what makes someone an individual is applied into how you approach your client. It’s about assessing your client and striking that perfect balance between their physical, emotional, cultural and spiritual needs.
This balance will be different for everyone, but take time to find out exactly what that is. Consult your client’s care plans or even have a simple chat with them. The key to their dignity is that they are treated as human beings, not a task list.
Adjusting your care to the individual will go a long way toward providing a sense of dignity for your clients. This underpinned by the notion that everyone is going to want their care delivered differently. If you have that simple fact in your mind at all times, delivering great person centred care will come naturally.
The best place to start is to offer your client choices wherever you can. Major choices like giving them the opportunity to pick the activities for the day is the ultimate goal. But what is also important are the small choices like asking them to pick out what they’d like to wear for the day, what drink they would like or what TV show they want to watch. With these smaller choices, you are consistently putting the decision-making in their hands, which reinforces the fact that they have the control over their care.
Privacy and confidentiality
Dignity isn’t restricted to how you care for your client and what you do in their presence. It’s also very much about how you conduct yourself when you aren’t with them.
In the context of providing care for someone, you have been given a key role in their private life. As such, trust is not just an expectation, but a requirement. That level of trust is upheld by the promise that you keep your interactions and experiences at work confidential.
As the person providing care, your job is to enable your client to have the best quality of life possible and to respect their rights. The right to privacy is something that’s afforded to everyone and should not be different for someone simply because they require assistance to live their life.
The temptation to recount stories from the workplace will always be there. Just remember that the threshold for what someone regards as worthy of being confidential is different for everyone. So to be safe and to ensure the dignity of your client is upheld, don’t share any stories from work.
By providing your care and support in a way that is respectful and treats your clients in a dignified manner every party involved will benefit. Clients are given a sense of value and independence. Their family can rest easy knowing their loved one is in good hands. And finally, you yourself will derive great job satisfaction from the knowledge that you’ve made a massive difference to someone’ life.