Eastern and Coastal Kent NHS Community Services Dignity Champions

Eastern and Coastal Kent NHS Community Services recruited 'dignity champions' in order to support and encourage the privacy and dignity of service users within its healthcare settings.

The dignity champions worked with the Essence of Care Coordinator, a new post, to produce a means of auditing standards of dignity, privacy and respect in their care. A diagnostic tool was used which allowed them to evaluate the diverse community health settings in the region and to make relevant and meaningful improvements to services in order to benefit patients.

To ensure the monitoring and measuring process was appropriate for service users, a citizen engagement volunteer was recruited to help in the development of the evaluation procedure and act as an advocate for service user views. Careful and sensitive negotiation with clinicians was necessary to ensure that nobody misinterpreted the nature of the project or felt that the intention might be to question the dignity in care already provide to patients.

Staff and service users alike valued the opportunity this project gave for their opinions to be heard and could see that their concerns were met with action and real changes being made to service provision. These changes were simple but significant and included the introduction of 'knock before you enter' signs, single sex sanitary facilities and an improvement in the provision of confidential discussion areas.

A leaflet was also produced giving top tips to staff on providing dignity in care and an Essence of Care newsletter was launched supporting the messaging that privacy, dignity and respect are 'everyone's business'.