Sir Michael Parkinson Appointed National Dignity Ambassador

20/05/2008

Sir Michael Parkinson is to become National Dignity Ambassador for the Government's drive to ensure that all older people using care and health services are treated with dignity and respect at all times. To mark the appointment, Michael Parkinson today joined Care Services Minister Ivan Lewis, at the launch of a National Dignity Tour at Guys and St Thomas's Hospital, in London.

The aim of the tour, which will visit every region in England, is to raise the profile of the Dignity in Care campaign, launched by Ivan Lewis last year, and encourage more people to become Dignity Champions, spreading best practice and giving advice to other health and social care workers.

Through the campaign, the Government wants to inspire and equip people - service users, carers, relatives or care staff - with the information, advice and support they need to drive up care standards with respect to dignity for the individual.

Ivan Lewis also announced today further measures to strengthen the government's Dignity In Care Campaign:

  • The Government will propose that the new NHS Constitution, to be published this year, explicitly recognise that a world class NHS must give a new priority to dignity and respect for patients alongside high quality medical care
  • The Government will open discussions with Local Authorities on the provisions of joint residential care for elderly couples, with a view to making it clear that other than in exceptional circumstances, couples requiring care should not be separated, and the needs of both people are properly taken into account
  • The Government's intention to double the number of volunteers and paid staff who have signed up as Dignity Champions to 3000 by the end of the year.

Care services Minister Ivan Lewis said:

"I want NHS and Social Care services to apply a simple test - if it wouldn't be good enough for my Mum and Dad why should it be good enough for someone else's?

"Our Dignity in Care campaign has struck a real chord with older people, their families and front line staff. Too often, they themselves describe experiences that are not acceptable.

"Today's appointment of Sir Michael Parkinson, and our commitment to put patient dignity and respect at the heart of the NHS Constitution, represent major advances for our campaign.

"We have made progress but this has to be a long-term partnership between government, managers, front-line staff, families and the wider community to ensure dignity and respect are at the heart of care in NHS wards, care homes and home care services.

"In the same way as investing in the younger generation will determine the success of our country, our treatment of older people will determine its character."

The new Dignity Ambassador Sir Michael Parkinson said:

"I am honoured to take on this role as Ambassador for the Government's Dignity In Care campaign.

"I have always had immense respect for the contribution older people have made to our country. Like many others I have experienced the care system in the past as the son of elderly parents.

"Dignity is about being treated as an individual with respect and compassion. I intend to use my role to make a real difference and ensure the issue of dignity moves to the heart of all NHS and care services."

To support the dignity campaign further, the Department of Health will be launching a revamped website this summer to support Dignity Champions. Full of new features, the website will enable champions to become more effective in sharing best practice and networking locally with each other.

To reward organisations who develop their staff to provide high quality services, we are entering into a partnership with Skills for Care on the Accolades Awards. We will be looking to highlight excellent examples of dignity in care from 2009 by developing a specific focus on dignity in the awards categories.


--ENDS--


Notes to Editors:


1. The Dignity tour will take place from June to November this year and visit:

  • 16 June: North West - Warrington
  • 14 July: East Midlands - Leicester
  • 21 July: Yorkshire and the Humber - West & South Yorkshire
  • 6 Oct: West Midlands - Birmingham
  • 13 Oct: North East - Newcastle upon Tyne
  • 20 Oct: South West - Bristol
  • 3 Nov: East of England - Norwich
  • 10 Nov: South East - Brighton

2. To sign up to become a dignity champion visit the Dignity pages.

3. Over 1,800 Dignity Champions have signed up all committed to taking some action locally to improve dignity in care (original target of 1,000).

4. Thousands of people in care homes and hospices have benefitted from £117m investment to promote dignity through improvements to their care environment

5. For the first time ever Government and a wide range of stakeholders have joined forces to develop and take forward a Nutritional Action Plan aimed addressing the issues that exist in this most fundamental aspect of care.

6. The Dignity Challenge - acts as a call to arms to care providers to meet the 10 principles of care in their services to people. When the concept of "dignity" means many things to many people, this is a tangible way of explaining what it looks like in the context of treating people well in a care setting. The Dignity Challenge was printed onto business cards (Dignity Cards) to act as an aide-memoir to staff working in Health & Social Care about these important behaviours towards people they care for. They have proven to be very popular with thousands of cards being issued so far.

7. High quality care services that respect people's dignity should:

  • Have a zero tolerance of all forms of abuse
  • Support people with the same respect you would want for yourself or a member of your family
  • Treat each person as an individual by offering a personalised service
  • Enable people to maintain the maximum possible level of independence, choice and control
  • Listen and support people to express their needs and wants
  • Respect people's right to privacy
  • Ensure people feel able to complain without fear of retribution
  • Engage with family members and carers as care partners
  • Assist people to maintain confidence and a positive self esteem
  • Act to alleviate people's loneliness and isolation

8. Last month a radical 3 year programme of social care transformation began in every Local Authority area in England supported by a £450 million grant. This will give older people and their families a greater level of control and choice over how their support is provided.

9. Last week Gordon Brown and Alan Johnson announced a major consultation leading to a green paper on the future of the care and support system. We want to reach a consensus with the public and all political parties on a better quality fairer system which meets families aspirations and is sustainable for the long-term.

10. We are enhancing protection for publicly funded residents of private care homes and giving those who fund their own care new rights to seek independent adjudication of complaints.

11. Later this year the Prime Minister will announce a 10 year strategy to ensure carers receive proper recognition in our society for the contribution they make to their families and our communities.

12. We will also publish the first ever National Dementia Strategy to improve support and services for families struggling to cope with this distressing condition.