Dignity in Care Award 2009 - Regional Winner - North East Region
Updated on 21/10/2009
The 2009 Health and Social Care Award for Dignity in Care - North East region award went to:
St Benedict's Hospice In-Patient Unit
Promoting privacy and dignity is about changing culture, not just improving services. Patients judge their experience on the way they are treated as a person as well as on how they are treated for their condition.
In view of this philosophy, the multidisciplinary team at St Benedict's Hospice developed a project to turn the traditional medical model of care on its head and put the patient at the heart of the service. The aim was to find the best way to deliver safe and effective care at the same time as giving patients more choice and control.
Achieving this goal involved facilitating a rigorous five-day workshop, holding focus groups with staff and patients, and conducting interviews with patients and relatives. Patients were also encouraged to keep journals and to write an honest and descriptive account of their experience.
Emphasising privacy and dignity emerged as one of the key aspects of the project, and this has resulted in the creation of posters to remind staff to respect the privacy of patients and ensure they are not disturbed unnecessarily. A dignity charter has also been drawn up and patients are routinely given diary sheets to ensure that the multidisciplinary team is able to fit services around patient availability.
Other significant achievements include greater patient involvement in care plans and the development of a 'welcome' pack with patient assistance.
Sustainability is ensured by good communication, and the project remains an agenda item to this day. Feedback on the initiative is extremely positive, including comments such as: "My husband's final hours were very dignified and pain free. I do not think that would have been possible had he passed away at home."
The runner up for the award was:
Gill recognises that dignity is not about legislation or lip service; it is about promoting a basic human right, which sometimes involves challenging attitudes and changing behaviours.
Already a Dignity Champion, Gill is passionate about putting people in control of their lives. She noticed the difficulties experienced by people with hearing and speech impairments when contacting the emergency services. As they cannot hear or communicate the spoken word, Gill worked with service users and experts to create an emergency mobile phone texting service.
Gill's programme has not been without challenges. There was reluctance to try new technology, especially from those used to relying on the help of others. Gill has overcome this obstacle by using the appropriate methods for them and supporting the people she works with to take control of their lives.
The project brought about a rethink from the emergency services in relation to responding to the needs of vulnerable people. Gill's knowledge and experience was instrumental in breaking down existing barriers and developing the system.
Praise from those who have benefited from the project is high. One user said "Gill has given me the confidence to look for a job and make a better future for my family", another that "Gill is very patient, we could not do without her".
The emergency texting service is no longer a small, local project but part of the mainstream service provision aimed at making a difference to people's lives. Gill has gone the extra mile to improve the lives of many people by making it easier for them to communicate their needs.