Let’s start by having a dialogue about dignity

COMMENT: All agencies must to held to account for Anne Savidge’s tragic death

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Millions of people use social care services in England and that number is predicted to rise as people live longer and rates of those illnesses associated with ageing, such as Alzheimer’s and cancer, increase.

There are a variety of ways in which people are cared for.

Best known are care homes where support is available at all times. Domiciliary, also known as home care, is another solution, where people stay in their homes and are visited by carers to help them with everyday tasks.

Many older people or those with disabilities may also go to day centres which offer companionship, meals and often little extras, such as hairdressing or trips out.

No matter what type of care, it is vitally important that people are treated with the utmost respect and compassion.

In general terms, maintaining this comfort and dignity can take several forms.

Making sure that people are addressed respectfully using their name, not a term such as ‘dearie’ or ‘love’, or that hospital patients are provided with same sex accommodation, are a couple of examples. Privacy should also be maintained at all times.

Beyond these fundamental requirements, compassion and dignity can also be about just taking the time to talk to and understand people receiving care, to ensure they feel valued and listened to.

It was with this in mind that the first Dignity Action Day took place in 2010, with the aim of placing dignity and compassion at the heart of care services.

Organised by the Dignity in Care network, it called for volunteers to step forward and offer support for the more vulnerable members of society.

While dignity in care is obviously about more than one day and should be upheld at all times, this day of action gives people a more focused opportunity to promote it to others and demonstrate how they uphold dignity, so others can share ideas and also give people in care an extra special day.

The next Dignity Action Day will take place tomorrow and follows on from last year when 35,000 people volunteered to take part in organised activities across the country.

Many of my colleagues are arranging events up and down the country for people living in homes such as Harry Sotnick House in Buckland.

There are many ways you can get involved with Dignity Action Day:

· One-off, informal activities, such as playing games or talking to older people, or helping with gardening or decorating at a local facility.

· By getting in touch with services near you, you will be able to find out what help is required.

· You could also take a longer term approach and use the Dignity Action Day as your starting point to volunteer for other activities to assist people who need a little extra support. This could include helping your local meals on wheels service, volunteering at a local hospice, or meeting patients at a hospital to put them at ease.

Take the time to decide what you think you would be good at, and enjoy doing, and then research opportunities to help in your local area.

It is important to remember that there is a wide range of activities that you can volunteer to get involved with, depending on your available time and abilities.

These can involve directly helping vulnerable people, or carrying out activities such as fundraising for hospices or care homes.

No matter how big or small the gesture, helping out in this way will ensure the importance of dignity in care is continually highlighted and everything you do will make a difference.

If you are interested in taking part in the Dignity Action Day, you can find further information by viewing dignityincare.org.uk