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Your voice on health and social care

Call for care providers to help staff treat patients with more dignity


Healthwatch Oxfordshire and Age UK Oxfordshire are working with local health and social care services to improve standards of dignity in care in Oxfordshire.  

The move follows the publication today (November 5th 2015) of the Healthwatch report, Dignity in Care in Oxfordshire, and the announcement by Age UK Oxfordshire of the winners of this year’s Dignity in Care Awards. 

The Healthwatch report found that the majority of people who responded said that they had been treated with dignity, but that:

  • The experiences of those with communication difficulties or dementia were not always dignified, and in a small number of cases, were shocking.
  • People were reluctant to complain when they thought they hadn’t been treated properly.
  • People didn’t always feel properly involved in decisions about their care. 

The report also revealed that while health care staff believed strongly in the importance of delivering dignity, they sa id they felt workforce pressures often made that difficult to deliver. 

Healthwatch Oxfordshire has made seven recommendations, about how to build on the great work being celebrated by the Dignity in Care Awards[1], including:

  • Improving two-way communication between staff and patients and their families. 
  • Promoting access to support services which facilitate dignified care like advocacy and interpretation services more widely – and just involving carers better. 
  • Including discussions about maintaining dignity for patients and service users in staff training – with training covering things like   dementia awareness and using plain English instead of jargon. 

Rachel Coney, Chief Executive of Healthwatch Oxfordshire, said: “This report shows that while patients in Oxfordshire are receiving a high level of dignity in their care, there is still much that can be improved about how people are treated when they need health and social care services. “

 The report also revealed that the county’s commissioners and providers of care have made commitments for improvements, including: 

  • Oxfordshire County Council developing Home Care Standards written jointly by people who receive care in their home and home care support agencies, which require providers to meet dignity standards.
  • Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is Implementing a tool to help departments to maximise the amount of direct patient care; doing more to promote advocacy services; reviewing their basic induction training on dignity and respect; establishing new ‘carers surgeries’ and provides a multi-tier approach to training staff on understanding dementia and how to help manage patients and carers more helpfully.
  • Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust is updating the questions used across all their patient surveys to include a specific question around dignity in care so that they can monitor the improvements they intend to make; taking the accepted 10 Dignity Do standards into account when designing staff training; continuing the work they are already doing to improve the involvement of patients in decisions about their own care and to increase the amount of direct care time their staff spend with patients.

 Diana Roberts, Chair of Age UK Oxfordshire, said: “Age UK Oxfordshire is delighted to have been part of this joint project. We are keen to reassure all those in receipt of care and their families now and in the future that we will play our part to ensure that that this is not yet another report that sits on the shelf gathering dust. 

“It is heartening to learn that the majority of people surveyed felt they were treated with dignity and respect. We now also have clear statements and evidence of areas where improvements can and must be made.  It is extremely encouraging that Oxfordshire County Council, the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust and the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust are all committed to working with older people, families and other organisations to achieve what we are all want which is good quality care delivered with dignity whatever the setting. 

“In the words of one staff member, ‘people may not remember our names but they will always remember how we made them feel’.”

To read the report in full, click on this link