Government Extends Dignity Campaign To Mental Health Patients

The government’s ‘dignity in care’ campaign is being extended to people with mental health problems, nine months after it was launched to ensure older people were treated with respect by health and care professionals.

It coincides with a damning report by parliament’s joint committee on human rights that warned many older people were still facing maltreatment in hospitals and care homes. The new initiative has been welcomed by Mind, the mental health charity, which has carried out research that found patients routinely felt “stripped of dignity” in the mental health system.

Ivan Lewis, the care services minister, said: “People experiencing mental health difficulties are amongst the most vulnerable in society. We know that people with mental health problems are facing discrimination when trying to access public services like healthcare or get support from social services.

“We will be working to attack the stigma faced by people with mental health problems in society and ensure they are treated with dignity and respect by NHS and social care services.”

Paul Farmer, Mind’s chief executive, said: “People with mental health problems are too often shunned and discriminated against, even in those places which are supposed to be therapeutic and caring. Yet being treated with kindness and respect by staff can make all the difference to someone’s wellbeing and esteem, and hasten recovery.”

The extension of the campaign will focus on three key areas – tackling stigma, older people’s mental health and acute inpatient care. There will also be a programme to deliver race equality in mental health services and new programmes to give people more choice in the services they receive and greater access to psychological therapies.

The announcement by Mr Lewis coincides with the recognition of the 1000th ‘Dignity Champion’, awarded to people who “go that extra mile in improving the service that older people receive”.

Mr Lewis said: “One thousand people including volunteers, carers and professionals have now signed up to champion the rights of older people in hospitals and nursing homes. We genuinely need people like this to be the voice and ear of colleagues and professionals to promote dignity.

“These inspirational individuals are taking positive action to ensure that older people have a positive experience in the way they are treated by professionals in the NHS and social care sector.”

While the parliamentary joint committee on human rights, which published today’s report on elderly care, stressed that many older people received very high quality care in hospitals and residential care homes, it said that last year, more than three years after national minimum standards for privacy and dignity were introduced, over 20% of care homes were still failing to meet them.

While there have been some recent signs of progress in policy and guidance, the rhetoric has not translated into practice on the ground, the report concluded.