It should be part of human nature to treat people in the way you would like to be treated yourself. For those of us who put ourselves forward for some kind of public service, this is an important quality. Respecting the views of others, listening, giving people privacy, helping those unable provide for their own basic needs are all things that those of us working in the caring professions should consider. These things should go without saying. Why then did I spend my morning at a dignity workshop?

It doesn’t hurt to be reminded that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity. This includes friends, colleagues, and those we encounter in our working lives. How often have you done something for someone else only to be greeted by someone who is not a bit grateful? On the other hand how often have you thought of your own needs over those of others? Nurses, doctors, paramedics, therapists, all professionals providing healthcare (there are many others), but do we all consider the needs of our patients before we speak or act? Do we always do everything we can for others and do they actually respect us in return? In the main I believe that most of us do think about the needs of others, we treat people with the respect and dignity of others and that respect and dignity is reciprocated. Sometimes though this doesn’t happen. Today I heard anecdotes of a nurse taking the blood pressure of a patient, wearing gloves and without speaking to the patient, of doctors not imagining people need to have their condition and treatment explained to them, of people having their bodies exposed to whole wards and this was just examples given by health care professionals in their private lives.

It is sad that the government is having to launch yet another initiative, this time about dignity, it is annoying that this might yet turn into another tick box audit type issue. It would be easy to say that the nurses / doctors / etc are just less caring, that they are in some way falling short. But actually is this more of an incitement of our society. After all we don’t necessarily generally treat teenagers, old people, or single mothers with any kind of respect, so why should we be surprised that dignity and respect might be something needing to be taught.