Department of Health and Social Care
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Sir Michael Parkinson returns to the day job to promote Dignity in Care

Sir Michael Parkinson returns to the day job to promote Dignity in Care

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH News Release issued by COI News Distribution Service. 25 November 2008

Sir Michael Parkinson will today return to his famous chair to interview three people about dignity and respect for those in care and discuss how ordinary people can inspire others to treat people in care with the dignity they deserve.

At an event in Covent Garden, his interviewees will be:

* Barbara Pointon, an Ambassador for the Alzheimer's Society;
* Barbara Dearnley, an 80-year-old woman who has been involved in the 'Improving the Care of the Older Person' project at Kings College Hospital: and
* Amanda Waring, an actress who produced the short film 'What do you see' to raise awareness about how we treat older people.

Over the past six months, in his role as Dignity Ambassador, Sir Michael Parkinson has together with Care Services Minister Phil Hope, met with Dignity Champions and older people. They have been listening to older people receiving care services and Dignity Champions to find out what constitutes best practice, how to share that practice and where improvements can be made to ensure everyone receiving care is treated with dignity and respect.

They have seen a number of initiatives, such as protected meal times, meaningful activities which help staff provide more personalised care for people with dementia, menus with pictures so that residents can see what they are ordering and curtains around beds which were improved to increase privacy.

Since Sir Michael joined the Dignity in Care campaign in May this year the numbers of Dignity Champions across the country has almost tripled to more than 4,000.

Today, Sir Michael Parkinson and Phil Hope will be meeting around 200 Dignity Champions, which include nurses, care home staff, voluntary sector workers, porters, council staff and managers in health and social care. All of them are committed to making a difference to the way in which older people are treated in care. What they do in their roles as Dignity Champions varies widely but what they all share is a commitment to making a difference, however small, to the way older people experience care.

Dignity Ambassador Sir Michael Parkinson said:

"Over the past six months, I have had have the great honour of meeting some of our nation's real unsung heroes, hearing their stories and bringing attention to what they are doing to hopefully inspire many others to follow suit. They are ordinary people doing everyday things. But in their own way having tremendous impact on those around them.

"Hopefully I can use my role as Dignity Ambassador to make a real difference and ensure the issue of dignity move to the heart of all NHS and care services."

Minister of State for Care Services, Phil Hope said:

"People want and have a right to expect services with dignity and respect at their heart. Ultimately, higher standards will enable people to live their own lives as they wish, confident that services are of high quality."

One of the Dignity Champions that Sir Michael Parkinson and Phil Hope will be meeting today is Jayne Biddiscombe, a staff nurse from Weston-super-Mare, who was the 3,000th person to sign up as a Dignity Champion. She said:

"I was originally inspired to sign up as a Dignity Champion after reading a heart wrenching article in a magazine about a mother who's daughter did not receive the dignity she deserved when she was in care. I wanted to make a difference and ensure that other people do receive the dignity and respect they deserve when they are at their most vulnerable.

"I passionately believe that maintaining and ensuring a person's dignity is important right to the end. Dignity in death, is just as important as in life."

Anyone wanting to recognise the dedication of an individual or team who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to improve patient dignity in care, can nominate them for the People's Award for Dignity in Care. Local nominees will be put forward for the nine regional awards and one overall winner will then be chosen by panel of national judges.

Notes to Editors:

For further details or to sign up to become a dignity champion see

The Dignity in Care Campaign aims to inspire and equip people to drive up care standards and encourage people to become Dignity Champions, spreading best practice and giving advice to other health and social care workers.

High quality care services that respect people's dignity should:
1. Have a zero tolerance of all forms of abuse
2. Support people with the same respect you would want for yourself or a member of your family
3. Treat each person as an individual by offering a personalised service
4. Enable people to maintain the maximum possible level of independence, choice and control
5. Listen and support people to express their needs and wants
6. Respect people's right to privacy
7. Ensure people feel able to complain without fear of retribution
8. Engage with family members and carers as care partners
9. Assist people to maintain confidence and a positive self esteem
10. Act to alleviate people's loneliness and isolation

For more information about the People's Award for Dignity, please see

Nominations for the Dignity Awards open in November and close 6 March 2009. To make a nomination, people in Brighton should complete the online registration form at
or by requesting a nomination form through the freephone helpline: 0870 000 1100.

The criteria are for a person or a team who are focussed on the person, by providing simple, clear and accessible information about services; provide a better service by striving to deliver a service that's personal; and show dignity and respect by supporting people to express their needs and wants.

Dignity case study

Carole Dinshaw, Dignity Champion, Worcestershire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust

Locality Manager at Worcestershire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, Carole Dinshaw, has become a Dignity Champion in the fight for better treatment for elderly patients across Worcester. She is leading the Dignity Campaign for the trust's mental health services.

Caroline Dinshaw is backing the Government-led campaign to protect the rights of older people so that they are treated with dignity, courtesy, and respect while they receive healthcare.

Carole said:

"We need to understand what we are currently doing as an organisation and individually to improve dignity for older patients, and recognise, learn from and share our problems and successes.

"We must be confident that we can address any compromise of dignity and show we are committed to getting this right."

Across Worcester Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, Carole has led a number of changes to improve care for elderly patients, including:

* A commitment that staff would not transport inpatients by commode instead of getting a wheelchair. This practice has stopped throughout the trust.

* At Redgrove Day Hospital, Bromsgrove, elderly adults had the same mealtimes as 'working age adults' from a busy acute assessment ward. The mealtimes were sometimes chaotic and noisy, leading to some of the older patients feeling anxious and afraid. Since receiving Carole's feedback, the trust arranged separate mealtimes.

* Staff and service users prepare the environment for a more comfortable and relaxed mealtime by laying the tables, and they have more time and space to eat together.

* Carole initiated an agreement that staff will challenge each other when they hear or see something that may compromise a person's dignity, such as a nurse moving a patient in a wheelchair without informing them this was going to happen, or staff talking about a patient in front of them, making assumptions about their understanding and right to choice.

* Examples of positive work that affirms patients' dignity are recognised and commended as good practice.

* The trust redeveloped one of Kidderminster Hospital's second floor inpatient wards (Witley Ward), which has little access to the outside, to make it cleaner and brighter. The ward now has a skylight and stained glass windows, with an open reception desk inviting both patients and visitors to communicate with nursing staff. It has had a great deal of positive feedback from patients and visitors.

In addition, Carole has encouraged staff to look at their wards to find ways of improving dignity for older patients. For example, a toilet and bathroom at the Princess of Wales Community Hospital, Bromsgrove, opened out to a corridor used by visitors, staff and patients. Nurses arranged curtain screening so that there would not be an immediate view of the patient when the toilet door was opened.

For further details or to sign up to become a dignity champion see

For more information about the People's Award for Dignity, please see

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