The Dignity and Respect Action Group

The Dignity and Respect Action Group at Southend University Hospital brings together staff, patients and volunteers to share stories and take forward plans to improve the experience of patients.

The group was set up by tutors from the Hospital and Anglia Ruskin University along with staff who received a specially designed dignity and respect training. They discovered a shared passion for improving the dignity and respect shown to patients and decided to set aside time, away from their day-to-day clinical duties, to explore and develop their ideas further.

Originally developed for staff, the group quickly decided that to ensure discussions were properly informed and had real impact on patient welfare, it was essential to work in collaboration with the patients themselves.

Since forming in 2004, the group's enthusiastic, positive and proactive approach has led to a pioneering range of innovations in the hospital. The group's work has led to a complete overhaul of the nightwear and gowns used in the hospital, introducing more dignified designs. Other ideas successfully championed include rain-proof covers for wheelchair users when travelling between hospital buildings, the provision of quiet-closing bins in patient areas to cut down noise levels and the introduction of 'Privacy Pegs' for securing bed curtains together to make staff more aware that they are entering a patient's personal space.

The hard work and solution-focused approach of the group has earned the respect and support of senior management and enables continued growth. A website is now being developed to help spread the word and promote its ethos of respect and dignity for all.