Department of Health and Social Care
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Mental health patients to benefit from drive for dignity and respect

Mental health patients to benefit from drive for dignity and respect

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH News Release (2007/0237) issued by The Government News Network on 15 August 2007

Numbers of Dignity Champions reach landmark 1000 figure

Care Services Minister Ivan Lewis today announced that the successful 'dignity in care' campaign to ensure that older people are treated with respect by health and care professionals, will be extended to people with mental health problems.

The initial campaign has already proved successful in raising awareness of dignity in care and driving forward improvements in the way in which older people are treated every day.

There are now 1000 individuals who have been recognised as 'Dignity Champions' and been rewarded for going that extra mile in improving the service that older people receive.

Initiatives round the country include installing a music system in wards at West Hertfordshire NHS Trust to mask confidential conversations to maintain the crucial privacy that older people need to feel respected.

Ivan Lewis said:

"Our campaign to put dignity and respect at the heart of care services for older people is beginning to make a real difference at a local level.

"A record 1000 people including volunteers, carers and professionals have now signed up to champion the rights of older people in hospitals and nursing homes. We genuinely need people like this to be the voice and ear of colleagues and professionals to promote dignity. These inspirational individuals are taking positive action to ensure that older people have a positive experience in the way they are treated by professionals in the NHS and social care sector. An increasing number of NHS trusts, local authorities and independent sector providers are focusing on how their services can place a new emphasis on dignity and respect for patients, residents and their families.

"As well as strengthening our focus on older people we are today announcing the extension of our dignity campaign to people with mental health needs. People experiencing mental health difficulties are amongst the most vulnerable in society. We know people fear what they don't understand. Fear can result in discrimination and we know that people with mental health problems are facing discrimination when trying to access public services like health care or get support from social services.

We will be working in partnership with 'Moving People' to attack the stigma faced by people with mental health problems in society and ensure they are treated with dignity and respect by NHS and social care services.

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of mental health charity Mind said:

"Our research has found people routinely feel stripped of dignity in the mental health system, even though dignity and self-esteem are essential to recovery from mental ill health. People with mental health problems are too often shunned and discriminated against, even in those places which are supposed to be therapeutic and caring. Yet being treated with kindness and respect by staff can make all the difference to someone's wellbeing and esteem, and hasten recovery. If 'dignity champions' can go any way to redressing the de-personalising nature of our mental health wards, then they will be most welcome."

Notes to Editors:

1. The Dignity in Care campaign was launched in November 2006. Details can be found on the Department of Health website:

2. The regional breakdown of dignity champions are as follows:

                        Total by Region
      London                  89 S East                  102
      S West                  67 E Mids                  55
      Eastern                 66 W Mids                  124
      NE Yorks & Humber       170 N West                  225
      TOTAL                   1006 


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