DACIE (Dignity Action Challenge for Improving Empathy)

School wide National Dignity in Action day experiential learning

Report by Lesley Butcher, Lecturer in Adult Nursing at Cardiff University.

I organised a ‘Dignity Action Day’ experiential learning experience for undergraduate students from all disciplines. I designed and implemented various dignity 'challenges'. I have called these DACIE (Dignity Action Challenge for Improving Empathy). The aim was to not just raise awareness but use experiential learning to help students to understand the experience of someone who is in a position where their dignity might be compromised.   

  • Wearing an incontinence pad that was visible to the public 
  • Attending the library after being sprayed with an unpleasant (faecal) smell 
  • Being left in a wheelchair in a public area with a full catheter bag on display 
  • Being left seated on piece of hoisting equipment outside a disabled bathroom, holding incontinence products 
  • Wearing clothing that was ill-fitting or inappropriate in style 
  • Walking around in a public area with food on the face 
  • Being seated on a commode in a public area wearing pyjamas  
  • Being assisted with food and drink in a public place while wearing a plastic apron 

We had representatives from OT, Radiotherapy, Nursing (Adult and Mental Health) and ODP who all took part in the above. Following the activities, a debriefing and reflection session took place. Students produced written reflections and consented to video-interviews of their experience.  

Student feedback was extremely positive and many commented that it should be a 'compulsory' activity for all students. Many commented that the experiential methods used enabled them to learn "more than they could have in a lecture". Most importantly, they said it would have an impact on their attitude in practice.  

I also interviewed members of staff who participated in the events of the day. Some members of staff and other students who were not able to participate in the actual day were interviewed on another day. They shared their own personal experiences of dignity/indignity in the care they or a member of their family received.  

I later interviewed service users who are living with early-onset dementia about their experiences of dignity and what is important to them.  

It is planned that the video interviews will form a short documentary on dignity in care, which will be published on my ‘A person like me’ website. I also plan to write up the experience and submit it to a peer-reviewed journal, introducing the concept of ‘DACIE’. 

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