The core values of Better Ways For Seniors are dignity, independence and personal choice. Over the coming weeks I’ll be reflecting on each of those with you in various ways, starting this week with dignity, which is often defined as “the state or quality of being worthy of honour or respect”. Whenever I am interviewing prospective care providers, I always ask them to tell me what they think “dignity” means to a senior. You might ask why I don’t simply ask them what they think dignity means…period. It turns out that when it comes to dignity, seniors might actually have different priorities than those who are caring for them.
A 2013 article in BMC Geriatrics (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614439) in which health and social work professionals were surveyed “described the meaning of dignified care in terms of their relationships with patients: ‘respect’ (47%), ‘being treated as an individual’ (40%), ‘being involved in decision making’ (26%) and ‘privacy’ (24%). In contrast, the article goes on to show that while seniors themselves may agree that those 4 areas are aspects of dignity, they would typically not rank them as high as “the basic and vital aspects of care such as eating, nutrition, personal hygiene and toileting.”
I’d love to hear from YOU…what do you think dignity means to a senior? Is that also what it means to you?