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The Dignity Code for our Elderly

The Dignity Code for our Elderly

Way back in February 2012, the then Care Minister Paul Burstow wanted this code to be displayed in every GP surgery, social services department, hospital ward and nursing home. The code was created and drawn up by the National Pensioners Convention, and it sets out minimum standards of treatment in order to end abuse and neglect. The code sets out 19 points on how older people should and should not be treated while in hospital or in the community. These can be viewed below. Within the code it says that old age pensioners should not be spoken down to, or prevented from taking decisions, and for care to be adapted to the needs of individuals. There should also be support for older people in maintaining their personal appearance. Nurses and care workers could be asked to sign up to the code, which states that elderly patients should not be treated as ‘objects’. Organisations including: The TUC, Unison, Royal Commission on Long Term Care, Macmillan Cancer Support and the Social Care Institute for Excellence, signed an open letter pledging their support for the Dignity code. Dignity Code The purpose of this Dignity Code is to uphold the rights and maintain the personal dignity of older people, within the context of ensuring the health, safety and well being of those who are increasingly less able to care for themselves or to properly conduct their affairs. This Code recognises that certain practices and actions are unacceptable to older people, such as: 1. Being abusive or disrespectful in any way, ignoring people or assuming they cannot do things for themselves 2. Treating older people as objects or speaking about them in their presence as if they were not there 3. Not respecting the need for privacy 4. Not informing older people of what is happening in a way that they can understand 5. Changing the older person’s environment without their permission 6. Intervening or performing care without consent 7. Using unnecessary medication or restraints 8. Failing to take care of an older person’s personal appearance 9. Not allowing older people to speak for themselves, either directly or through the use of a friend, relative or advocate 10. Refusing treatment on the grounds of age This Code therefore calls for: 11. Respect for individuals to make up their own minds, and for their personal wishes as expressed in ‘living wills’, for implementation when they can no longer express themselves clearly 12. Respect for an individual’s habits, values, particular cultural background and any needs, linguistic or otherwise 13. The use of formal spoken terms of address, unless invited to do otherwise 14. Comfort, consideration, inclusion, participation, stimulation and a sense of purpose in all aspects of care 15. Care to be adapted to the needs of the individual 16. Support for the individual to maintain their hygiene and personal appearance 17. Respect for people’s homes, living space and privacy 18. Concerns to be dealt with thoroughly and the right to complain without fear of retribution 19. The provision of advocacy services where appropriate The NPC Dignity Code can also be viewed and a copy downloaded by clicking here:

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