Royal College of Nursing Definition of Dignity
Here is a definition of dignity that comes from a report by the Royal College of Nursing:
‘Dignity is concerned with how people feel, think and behave in relation to the worth or value of themselves and others. To treat someone with dignity is to treat them as being of worth, in a way that is respectful of them as valued individuals. In care situations, dignity may be promoted or diminished by: the physical environment; organisational culture; by the attitudes and behaviour of the [care] team and others and by the way care activities are carried out.
When dignity is present, people feel in control, valued, confident, comfortable and able to make decisions for themselves. When dignity is absent people feel devalued, lacking control and comfort. They may lack confidence and be unable to make decisions for themselves. They may feel humiliated, embarrassed or ashamed.
Dignity applies equally to those who have capacity and to those who lack it. Everyone has equal worth as human beings and must be treated as if they are able to feel, think and behave in relation to their own worth and value. The [care] team should, therefore, treat all people in all settings and of any health status with dignity, and dignified care should continue after death.’
Skills for Care’ suggest the following definition and 7 principles of dignity:
‘Dignity focuses on the significance and value of every person as a unique individual. We show our commitment to upholding other people’s dignity by the ways in which we treat them; fairly, truthfully and with care and compassion. We respect other’s views, choices and decisions and so not make assumptions about what they want, like or how they want to be treated.’
Principle 1: Value the uniqueness of every individual
Principle 2: Uphold the responsibility to shape care and support services around each individual
Principle 3: Value communicating with individuals in ways that are meaningful to them
Principle 4: Recognise and respect how an individual’s dignity may be affected when supported with their personal care
Principle 5: Recognise that an individual’s surroundings and environments are important to their sense of dignity
Principle 6: Value workplace cultures that actively promote the dignity of everybody
Principle 7: Recognise the need to challenge care that may reduce the dignity of the individual’