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Respecting patients' dignity

18 February 2013


Being in hospital can often be an alarming and bewildering time for patients, making them feel vulnerable and frightened.

And it is the simple things that can make all the difference - things which uphold the person's dignity and respect; from ensuring a patient is given a gown which does not gape, to being given a cup of tea and a cake with a smile.

An awareness event held at Southend University showcased the work being done at the hospital to ensure every patient is treated as a person rather than a condition.

For example, bariatric gowns are now available for patients on the larger side who find themselves in hospital, plus specially-designed treatment wear for women who have suffered breast cancer.

The sterling service offered by Feeding Buddies, red-tabarded volunteers who help encourage frail patients to eat, as well as stay to chat over a meal, was also highlighted. Tasty high-calorie treats given to patients with particularly poor appetites as part of special snack rounds were on the menu for sampling.

The work being done to ensure patients with learning disabilities are supported and made to feel comfortable while they are at or in the hospital was also highlighted. Sarah Haines, learning disability lead nurse, said: "Dignity and respect for people with learning disabilities is key to their experience in hospital. "It is also vital in order to improve their healthcare outcomes and that we are inclusive in our approach to care and treatment.

"The awareness event was a great opportunity to share the good work that is going on around the hospital and also suggest how we can improve."

Angela Cohen, matron for surgery, who also leads on dignity, respect and good nutrition within the hospital, said: "The event was a good way of showing how we translate our decisions into actions, as well as getting feedback on how we can improve things."

The Dignity and Nutrition (DAN) event was held on Dignity Action Day, an annual event spearheaded by TV star Joan Bakewell. The day gives everyone the opportunity to contribute to upholding people's rights to dignity and aims to ensure people who use care services are treated as individuals and are given choice, control and a sense of purpose in their daily lives.


Pic shows: nurses and Feeding Buddies at the event