Last month I became a Dignity Champion in support of the need to deliver care services that respect dignity in care (www.dignityincare.org.uk). As part of Dignity Action Day I joined forces with Amy Rose, a local community dance artist, to provide a seated dance exercise class for older adults at Whitaker day centre in Derby. All participants said they really enjoyed the class which involves movement to music whilst using props such as scarves, feather boas and hats.
Dignity in care has been a hot topic recently with considerable negative media coverage. Work is underway to try to address this with an independent commission established by the NHS in partnership with other organisations including Age UK (nhsconfed.org).
‘Stand-up for dignity’ is a project which has been designed by the social care institute for excellence (www.scie.org.uk) to raise awareness and improve the value and status of care work:
‘If staff do not recognise dignity, if they feel taken for granted, if their self-esteem is dented, then it becomes more difficult for them to deliver dignified care.’ Tadd et al. 2011
One recommendation is for staff to have training which helps them do their job well, with work-based training being favourable and working more with health care professionals to support and train staff.
My fundamental aim in delivering training to carers is to improve knowledge, skills and confidence. My focus is training and supporting staff with their care handling skills. As a physiotherapist I bring experience and understanding of working with residents and carers in care homes for over 10 years and offer a high practical content to develop care handling skills.
One care home group I currently work with, in addition to delivering moving and handling and stroke training, I also provide a physiotherapy support package once a month. This gives residents opportunities for a review of their physical abilities and also supports staff with care handling difficulties providing ‘on-the-job training’.
This model of training and support I see as a way forward to improving dignity in care, where care homes are not such isolated units, but are more integrated into the community, with support and training from health care professionals, all working as part of a team.