The views of older people and health professionals about dignity in acute hospital care

Tauber-Gilmore, Marcelle; Addis, Gulen; Zahran, Zainab; Black, Sally; Baillie, Lesley; Procter, Sue and Norton, Christine (2017). The views of older people and health professionals about dignity in acute hospital care. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 27(1-2) pp. 223–234.



Aims and Objectives: This paper reports the findings from interviews conducted as part of a wider study on interventions to support dignified care in older people in acute hospital care. The data in this paper present the interview data.
Background: Dignity is a complex concept. Despite a plethora of recommendations on how to achieve dignified care it remains unclear how to attain this in practice and what the priorities of patients and staff are in relation to dignity.
Design: A purposive sample of older patients and staff took part in semi-structured interviews and gave their insight on the meaning of dignity and examples of what sustains and breaches a patient’s dignity in acute hospital care.
Method: Thirteen patients and thirty eight healthcare professionals in a single metropolitan hospital in the UK interviewed. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and underwent a thematic analysis.
Results: The meaning of dignity was broadly agreed on by patients and staff. Three broad themes were identified; the meaning of dignity, staffing level and its impact on dignity, and organisational culture and dignity. Registered staff of all healthcare discipline and student nurses report very little training on dignity or care of the older person.
Conclusion: There remains inconsistencies in the application of dignified care. Staff behaviour, a lack of training and the organisational processes continue to result in breaches to dignity of older people. Clinical nurses have a major role in ensuring dignified care for older people in hospital.
Relevance to clinical practice: There needs to be systematic dignity related training with regular refreshers. This education coupled with measures to change the cultural attitudes in an organisation towards older peoples’ care should result in long term improvements in the level of dignified care. Hospital managers have an important role in changing system to ensure that staff deliver the levels of care they aspire to.

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