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Under Embargo: Banish stereotypes to give those in care the dignity they deserve, says Sir Michael Parkinson

Under Embargo: Banish stereotypes to give those in care the dignity they deserve, says Sir Michael Parkinson

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 11 January 2010

Sir Michael Parkinson calls for out of date stereotypes of older people to be banished and for dignity to be at the heart of care in a personal account of his year as the nation’s Dignity Ambassador published today.

In his report, Sir Michael praises the people who inspired him; highlights small steps that cost nothing but make a real difference to people’s lives; and opens up about his own experience of the care of his mother, who had dementia.

A new Dignity Action Day and a £50,000 Bright Ideas Grant (BIG) for innovative projects that encourage dignity in care, were announced alongside the report by Health Secretary Andy Burnham.

BIG is about finding bright ideas about care and helping people put their ideas into practice to prove they work. Public and frontline staff can apply for the funding or ask for a helping hand to make their dignity projects a reality on the new BIG website.

The dignity day of action will take place on 25 th February.

Sir Michael Parkinson, National Dignity Ambassador, said:

“I gained first-hand experience of the NHS and care services during my mother’s illness with dementia. It struck me that whilst there are some excellent examples of care, where people are given the dignity and respect they need and deserve, much more needs to be done.

“Dignity doesn’t need to cost anything – small considerations like taking time to have a chat when you take people to the loo, or using their name rather than a generic term of endearment, can help people retain independence and self respect. We need to banish outdated attitudes and assumptions that can be a barrier to good quality care.

“Becoming National Dignity Ambassador has strengthened my belief that dignity in care needs to be everybody’s business. It’s not just about the government, or nurses or carers. We can all make a difference and I hope that my work will highlight this and inspire many more people to get involved and make this a reality.”

Andy Burnham, Secretary of State for Health said,

”Sir Michael’s report is an invaluable insight into the experiences of people who rely on support and those who dedicate their lives to helping others.

“Dignity must be at the heart of care. To achieve this we are transforming the care and support system to make it fairer, simpler and more affordable for everyone. We will soon be setting out our plans for a new National Care Service and are introducing free personal care for those living at home with the highest needs.

“Our dignity day of action will be chance for everyone to get involved in promoting dignity for all in care and our new Bright Ideas Grant will help new projects to promote dignity.”

Barbara Pointon, Alzheimer's Society Ambassador, said:

"Preserving dignity and respecting privacy are at the root of providing enlightened care. Where caregivers take this to heart, standards rise and people with dementia enjoy a better quality of life.

"Understanding a person's preferences helps to preserve their self-worth. Little things matter a lot. When Malcolm was in a care home, I would often tune his radio to Radio 3, only to find on my next visit that the care staff had reset it to Radio 1. Imagine how you would feel if you were subjected to music not of your taste and couldn't change it.

"I fully support the Dignity in Care campaign because it will help us all to focus on the individual, not the illness."

To find out more visit

Notes to Editors

Dignity campaign

Sir Michael was appointed in May 2008 to promote dignity in care, as part of the Department of Health’s Dignity Campaign.

Sir Michael embarked on a 9-month nationwide tour to inspire and equip people to drive up care standards and encourage people to become Dignity Champions. There are now 12,000 dignity champions across the country, spreading best practice and giving advice to other health and social care workers.

For further information on the Dignity in Care Campaign see

BIG – Bright Ideas Grant

The BIG website will be at . For a preview, see

The BIG ideas website aims to help generate and fund ideas to promote dignity in care. People can post their ideas online and bid for up to £10K of the total £50K fund. The online competition for the fund will close at 12 noon on 18 March 2010.

Visitors to the BIG website will be able to rate ideas, with the top rated ideas appearing in a leader board on the home page.

A helping hand function helps people who do not work in care services but have a bright idea find a care organisation to take their idea forward on their behalf.

The top rated ideas on that date to a total value of £50K will be awarded their share of the Bright Ideas Grant.

The day of action

The day of action will take place on 25 th February. It will focus on celebrating good work around dignity in care and encouraging the public to play their part in making a difference.

Health and social care staff and the public will be able to pledge their time; post details of an event or activity they will be taking part in; and seek local volunteers to take part in activities planned for the day at

Resource packs with ideas and information will be available from the website.

Dignity in practice

High quality care services that respect people’s dignity should:

· Have a zero tolerance of all forms of abuse
· Support people with the same respect you would want for yourself or a member of your family
· Treat each person as an individual by offering a personalised service
· Enable people to maintain the maximum possible level of independence, choice and control
· Listen and support people to express their needs and wants
· Respect people’s right to privacy
· Ensure people feel able to complain without fear of retribution
· Engage with family members and carers as care partners
· Assist people to maintain confidence and a positive self esteem
· Act to alleviate people’s loneliness and isolation


Department of Health
Phone: 020 7210 5221

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