Action group selected for 2009 East of England Health and Social Care Awards

Published: 6 May 2009 at 15:31

The Dignity and Respect Action group (DRAG) at Southend University hospital have recently been named as a finalist for the East of England Health and Social Care award within the Dignity in Care section. Jayne Crow, a senior lecturer for the Faculty of Health & Social Care, Anglia Ruskin University is the founding member of the group.

The awards evening will be held at the Stock Brook Country Club (Billericay, Essex) on the evening of Wednesday May 20 and hosted by the renowned broadcaster Bill Turnbull. Jayne, Janice Pears (Ward sister) and Lesley Vale (Patient Advice and Liaison Service) will represent the group at the gala dinner. 

The Dignity and Respect Action Group was formed in 2004 through an Action Research project between hospital and university staff to provide continuing education, inspiration, motivation and practical help to all trying to promote dignity and respect in Southend Hospital. The group is open to all staff, volunteers and service users and provides a forum where they can discuss issues relating to dignity and respect, gain support and if necessary, access expertise and advice. 

There is managerial involvement in the group on a regular basis including the Associate Director of Nursing and a Non-executive Director and representatives from the Facilities department.

The forming of the group was in response to the results of a service-user focus group. In response to this the hospital commissioned an education package to improve the dignity and respect shown to its service users. This was a collaborative venture between Iain Keenan, then Practice Development and Research Nurse and Anglia Ruskin University lecturers Jayne Crow and Lesley Smith and led to a jointly developed and delivered module called 'Fostering Dignity and Respect in Health Care Settings’. 

The module includes awareness raising through reflective discussion and observational exercises in practice. Students are also encouraged to write a pledge to make an improvement in their area to enhance dignity and respect.

The development of this module was undertaken as an Action Research project and was evaluated carefully. The students on the first 3 deliveries of the module said that the module had reignited enthusiasm and passion for promoting dignity and respect for their service users and they had plenty of ideas for improving this aspect of care. However they stated that at the end of the module when each went back to their own work area they often felt isolated and powerless to carry their ideas forward. They identified a need for a space within the hospital where they could meet with like-minded 'champions' of dignity and respect to nurture and sustain the enthusiasm and ideas that they said became 'swamped' by other demands on them when they returned to their clinical areas.

The development of the model has led to a number of achievements:

  • It has set new benchmarks for the Essence of Care dignity and privacy standard in the hospital.

  • It has raised awareness of Dignity and Respect issues and projects within the hospital through the hospital in-house publication and through its own group membership network.

  • It has introduced 'roving ' volunteer guides to look for and assist service users 'lost' in the hospital.

  • Improved signage to 'difficult to find' areas of the hospital.

  • Initiated 'volunteer visitors' for patients who have no visitors and would like to be visited.

  • Introduced the provision of rain-proof covers for wheelchair users.

  • Set up screens in SCBU to provide privacy for mothers visiting their newborn babies.

In preparation for the awards a film crew will be attending the DRAG meeting on Tues 5th May at the hospital to interview and film a sequence to be shown at the awards evening.