Help the Aged spear-heads dignity campaign with vital resource for health professionals

Help the Aged has launched two new pocket guides which will give front line health professionals top quality, quick and easy practical advice to help them promote dignity for older people in hospitals and other healthcare settings.

With the Government’s dignity challenge set, Help the Aged is playing a key role to ensure dignity for older people remains at the heart of those working with vulnerable older patients and their families.

The booklets, entitled ‘Promoting Dignity in Hospital’ and ‘Bereavement and Loss’ have been published in association with the Royal College of Nursing as part of Help the Aged’s continuing Dignity on the Ward campaign, which first ran in 1999.

‘Promoting Dignity in Hospital’ gives advice about the things that older people and their families value while in hospital, including:

 - A sense of security  – e.g. being able to see the staff or summon help easily, having staff check on them.

- Continuity – e.g. having the same members of staff allocated to care for them, being able to read their daily newspaper, or wear their own pyjamas.

 - A sense of significance – e.g. staff not using their first name without being invited to do so, feeling that staff respect their personal space and belongings.

‘Bereavement and Loss’ advises health professionals about how to broach death with older people facing end of life, as well as their families and friends who are facing bereavement. The guide includes:

    * Information about the different ways in which to understand the experience of bereavement;
    * Suggestions for different types of pre-bereavement support that can help older people and their families;
    * Practical suggestions on care at the time of death and immediately afterwards;
    * Ways to manage the impact of bereavement on staff involved in the care of an older person at the end of life.

David Sinclair, head of policy at Help the Aged, said:

“We hear from older people and their carers that good practice is far from universal. Many of the issues that people continue to raise - such as not being consulted about their care options and lack of privacy in communal settings - are disappointingly familiar and concerns remain unaddressed in too many cases.  

“Dignity in care is about how people feel when receiving care - it's about listening and talking to older people, it's being aware and respectful of their wants and needs, and above all it's about treating older people as individuals rather than seeing them as a labelled group. The guides provide a vital reminder about the importance of dignity for older people for all staff working on the front line, as well as practical support in achieving this.”

Pauline Ford, RCN Advisor in Nursing Older People said:

"The RCN is pleased to be working with Help the Aged on this important issue. The Dignity in Care booklets will give nurses and healthcare assistants the guidance they need to make sense of some of the challenges faced in day-to-day care. Working together, we can help to ensure that older people get the care they need and that nurses want to give.”

Copies of ‘Promoting Dignity in Hospital’ and ‘Bereavement and Loss’ are available for £1.50 each from Help the Aged publishing department.  Call 020 7239 1946 or email


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