The power to take action on dignity in care is not limited to staff and managers. Patients, service users, carers, relatives and the wider public can all play a role in promoting dignity. As can people working outside the health and social care system such as MP's, councillors, volunteers and members of local engagement and action groups.
For some it may be a one off action such as providing feedback on a service or making a complaint. Others may wish to take this up as a cause or have a more sustained role for example by becoming involved in local involvement networks or volunteering.
This section provides information, advice and inspiration for members of the public who feel enough about this issue to want to take action themselves. That action need not be onerous, there are many small things that people can do that can have a big impact on people lives.
Here are 10 ways as a member of the public you can take action to promote Dignity in Care
1. Sign up as a Dignity Champion here
2. Provide feedback on care services, good or bad. Even if you only have occasional contact with care services, as a patient, user of services or a visitor, you can still play a key role in helping create a positive culture in care services. If you see someone providing wonderful care that really respects people's dignity, make sure you let them know you appreciate it. You could do this in many different ways:
- Remember to tell them
- Tell their managers
- Send a thank you card
- Nominate them for an Award
- Put a thank you note in the suggestion box
- Use online feedback such as NHS Choices (opens new window) or Patient Opinion (opens new window)
And if you see bad care, make a stand. You could:
3. Contact your local councillor or MP. Your locally elected Councillors and MPs have power and influence to take forward dignity issues on your behalf. They are responsive to the needs of their local citizens so if enough local people register dignity in care as a priority issue with them - they should start to champion this cause on your behalf. By following the link below you can enter your postcode and send an email direct to your local councillors and MP. www.writetothem.com
You could for example:
- Ask them to prioritise and fight for dignity in care locally
- Share with them your personal dignity story and why this issue is important to you
- Encourage your local councillors to undertake a local Overview and Scrutiny Review around Dignity in Care.
4. Attend workshops and events for Dignity Champions. Various events are run locally in each region. These events bring you together with other Dignity Champions and will help equip you to take action in your role as Dignity Champion. Most events are free of charge.
It is important for Dignity Champions to take part in these events. Whilst you can make a difference as an individual - when you take action collectively you can become far more powerful and really make change happen.
Our events and workshops are always advertised in our monthly e-bulletin; quarterly newsletter and on the news section of our website. Local events/workshops are also posted in news items so keep an eye out for these.
5. Get involved with you local Healthwatch. Local Healthwatch gathers information and opinions from patients, carers, service users and the wider public about health and social care services, then makes sure those views are used to improve services for all. They may talk directly to health care professionals about a service that is not being offered or suggesting ways that an existing service could be made better. They have the right to visit, unannounced if needed, places providing health and social care - including hospitals, GP practices, dentists, pharmacists, residential homes and home care services - then report and publicise what they find. Find out more about local Healthwatch (opens new window).
6. Volunteer for dignity. There are a number of ways in which people can volunteer to promote dignity. At its most simple, volunteering may involve those actions that fall under "being a good neighbour" eg. calling in on an older/disabled neighbour for a chat; to help them do some household chores or perhaps support them to take a short walk; drop off some shopping; teach them how to use the web etc. Perhaps you could encourage your children or grandchildren to become involved in volunteering through local intergenerational schemes or get involved yourself by joining an intergenerational network. The WRVS are currently running a scheme challenging Britain to join forces to remove outdated stereotypes. Take a look at the My Life, My Story campaign. Or you may wish to take on a more formalised volunteering role. Several hospitals run their own volunteering scheme eg. support for eating at mealtimes. There are also several organisations that support people to find and take up volunteering opportunities.
- Volunteering England
- Red Cross
7. Speak out for dignity.
The more noise people make about dignity in care, the higher priority it will become for care service and politicians. There are a number of ways you can speak out and raise the profile of dignity in care. You could:
- Share your dignity story with local media
Create an online blog or website
8. Create your own local network Most people are already part of a wider social network for example members of the Women's Institute or members of hobby group such as singing, dancing, book clubs, social clubs etc. Some have extensive online social networks through sites such as Facebook and MySpace.
You can play your part in the campaign by bringing this issue to the attention of others within your social networks and encouraging them to sign up to the campaign and to take action too. After all, this is an issue that will affect all of us some day, be that personally, or as a relative, friend or carer.
Perhaps you feel that you are a lone voice as a Dignity Champion, struggling to make a difference. If so, why not set up your own local network of dignity activists to see how you can combine your efforts and take action together. You can find other like minded champions here.
9. Start an e-petition for dignity The more people register their vote for dignity in care to be a priority issue for local hospitals, councils and Government, the more likely it is to end up being so. E-petitions are a simple and inexpensive way to do this.