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Respect and dignity: an introduction

It is necessary for us to understand what is important to individuals, what they need and what they are able to do, and to respect their aspirations.
So, all that’s going around in my head in the surgery waiting room is, it’s come back, hasn’t it? Same symptoms. I know what they call it. They call it recurrence. How many times has my doctor had to break news like this? I remember him looking up from his notes with this friendly smile. I wanted to hug him. He knew I was dying, and he knew I knew. Yet even with all that, he had prepared all my options for me– support networks, specialists, groups. He didn’t treat me like I was a dying woman. He treated me like– like every second I had left really mattered, like I still counted for something.
We value every person – whether patient, their families or carers, or staff – as an individual, respect their aspirations and commitments in life, and seek to understand their priorities, needs, abilities and limits. We take what others have to say seriously. We are honest and open about our point of view and what we can and cannot do.
NHS Constitution (Department of Health 2015)
The second of the NHS values is respect and dignity. In order to work to this value, it is necessary for us to understand what is important to individuals, what they need and what they are able to do, and to respect their aspirations.
In the video notice how giving people options is valued by individuals, how this treats them with respect, and how it helps them maintain their dignity.
In this activity, you will explore the value respect and dignity through the way women are helped to make informed choices by the maternity services. You will be consider what choice is, and look at some of the cultural, professional and social barriers to informed choice. In addition, you will be encouraged to think about how we can support women during pregnancy and childbirth.
On completing this activity, you should be able to:
  • explain why choice matters
  • state what choices should be offered to women at the booking appointment
  • recognise the difference between choice and coercion
  • describe some ways in which a midwife may support women during pregnancy and childbirth.
Before we explore some of the literature that discusses and engages with the concept of choice, it is worth considering our own attitudes and experiences, which we’ll do next.
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Understanding NHS Values: Becoming a Nurse or Midwife

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