Delivering the Privacy & Dignity Agenda in West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust - A Collaborative Approach

The Practice and Innovation Team at West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust have led the local Dignity Campaign following the national launch in November 2006. The team started by writing 'Best Practice Standards for Privacy and Dignity' that were later supported by the development of the Trust's "Pledge" to patients and visitors. The Team's innovative approach was to recognise that no single initiative would ensure that all patients were treated with privacy, dignity and respect and that the solutions utilised needed to be as varied as the staff and local population.

They formed a group of Dignity Champions in order to ensure that all patients at the hospital were treated respectfully and that their privacy and dignity needs were met. The Champions recruited these from nursing staff at all levels as well as a radiographer, members of the spiritual and pastoral team and the chair of the Patient's Panel, the group began to meet on a bi-monthly basis to share best practice and offer support to each other in tackling the challenges they face in this role.

A huge range of initiatives have been introduced by the Dignity Champions. These have included customer care training of ward staff to ensure that patients receive a friendly and courteous greeting on arrival, the provision of internal shower curtains, better sign-posting of washrooms and toilets and the introduction of "Please Announce Yourself" curtain signs to remind the care team to respect patients' privacy.

Patient involvement has been at the heart of every initiative introduced and feedback has been collected through hand-held computerised trackers, enabling ongoing patient surveys. Patients and carers were also invited to speak at the Trust's two annual Dignity Conferences, joining inspiring guest experts to speak about local issues and initiatives to improve patient dignity.