Rebecca Wilson, team manager at LDN London, talks about what dignity means to her
When I was growing up, I remember the idea of ‘dignity’ was about being dignified, of deserving respect because you were calm, measured and well-behaved.
This idea was completely flipped on its head when I began my job as a support worker after university.
The care team I worked for understood that dignity was not something that our clients simply deserved. Instead dignity was sewn into the fabric of everything we did in our services.
The people we support are rarely composed or ‘well-behaved’. They don’t follow the idea of dignity as I previously understood it. They can be loud, and excitable. They’re sometimes not polite and don’t follow traditional rules around ‘normal’ behaviour or social niceties.
Their right to dignity, though, should be championed continuously.
We can champion dignity every day. That might be by making sure people we support have the chance to make choices around what to wear, what to eat and where to go.
You can also champion dignity on a larger scale by knowing when decisions may need to be made in someone’s best interest and asking for help from professionals on how best to approach this.
“Their right to dignity should be championed continuously.”
Another important element of caring for people with dignity is understanding that people change and that it is our jobs to adapt to these changes.
Asking yourself the question ‘How would I like to be cared for?’ or ‘what does being cared for mean to me?’ is a great way of understanding the importance of putting dignity into action.
The answers to those questions would be this: that you would like to be listened to, you would like to be treated as an individual; you would like your wants, your needs, your desires, what made you angry, what excited you, what bored you, what made you laugh, to be taken notice of and for your life to be moulded around these things.
On Dignity Action Day, we should think about whether we truly know all of these things about the people we support and, if we’re not sure, to take the time to find out.
For our care to be truly person-centred, we must always have dignity in mind.
Visit the Dignity Action Day website for more information about how to get involved and champion dignity.