Mick Ward - Dignity Champion at Leeds City Council

Mick Ward is a Dignity Champion who led Leeds City Council's flagship Dignity in Care project. The project recently won the national NHS Health and Social Care Award 2008, which was based on the Council's work to raise the standards of dignity across all Leeds City Council's health and social care settings.

The project encouraged cultural change through a publicity campaign depicting older people in Leeds and their expectations from services. Older people were interviewed and chose an image of themselves in varied settings.

Mick said:

" The campaign has been incredibly successful and we had to reprint the publicity materials several times. But we also needed to check how well we were doing in action, so, at Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust, for example, we asked staff to observe care in action and also to talk to patients, carers and staff about their approach to dignity in care. Not only did this provide a snapshot of dignity in care in action, it also helped the observers to think about their own practice."

This approach was so successful that a new project, in partnership with Age Concern, is being planned. This involves training and mentoring groups of older people who will carry out dignity audits in care homes.

Mick continued:

" We believe passionately that dignity in care is a right, not a privilege. So we have taken the ten dignity standards set out by the Department of Health and converted these into contractual obligations for our residential and care home providers as well as Leeds Primary Care Trust and Leeds partnership Foundation Trust."

The Council has also set up a multidisciplinary network of dignity champions including carers, volunteers, directors and board members who all meet to share good practice across the city.

Dr Susan Chesters added:

"I am the Chair of Leeds Older People's Forum which represents over 100 older people's groups in Leeds. From the start, the Forum has been an active partner in the Dignity campaign.

" Leeds has taken up the challenge of the Dignity in Care initiative with enthusiasm. We have Dignity Champions among front-line staff as well as managers across all services, each making a real difference.

"At the same time an energetic advertising campaign, including innovative and powerful posters, encourages older people themselves to demand their right to be treated with the respect they so richly deserve.

"It is with pride, as I travel about Leeds, that I see these posters displayed in libraries, GP practices and community centres."