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Dignity in a Care Home: What It Is & How to Promote It

Ensuring a resident’s dignity in a residential care home is of paramount importance. If they feel their identity or values are not being respected, it can prevent them from living comfortably in their environment. Self-expression is so important to us humans. So it is vital that care workers allow residents to express their values so they can keep their dignity and remain independent.

What does dignity in care homes mean? 

As defined by the Social Care Institute for Excellence, dignity in care means providing care that supports the self-respect of the person, recognising their capacities and ambitions and doing nothing to undermine it. In a care home setting, dignity should be at the heart of the residential home values and every high-quality personal care plan. The care plan is tailored to the exact needs of an individual, which provides carers with the opportunity to learn each resident’s capabilities, what they like and dislike and how they like to be treated. This method ensures that self-respect is at the forefront of each resident’s care and supports the overall commitment of the care home to treat each individual with dignity and respect.

Why is promoting dignity in care homes so important? 

The fundamental priority of a care home is to keep residents safe in all aspects, including food hygiene and fire safety. It is also essential that residents feel comfortable and happy in their environment. To care for this basic need, care home staff must fulfil their role which prioritises the needs and safety of residents, treat them with dignity in all aspects of their life and respect their needs.

For many people, moving into a care home is a significant change and it can take residents time to adjust to their new living environment. Some residents may have come from living independently to being dependent on carers to assist them in completing their everyday routines. It is vital for care home staff to remember that it is not a workplace for the residents, it is their home. So respecting their space, and treating them with dignity and respect is paramount to ensure they feel secure and at home.

What are the 8 factors of dignity and how can care homes maintain them?

Choice and control

We make numerous decisions every day. What we want to eat that day, what clothes we want to wear, and what time we want to wake up, are just some of the many simple decisions we make daily. By thinking about these decisions makes it easy to see a range of opportunities where care homes can provide choice and control to residents and enable them to be responsible for their own lives. Just because a resident is dependent on care home staff to live their life safely, it doesn’t mean they can’t make their own choices.


Speaking respectfully and listening to what a resident has to say is vital. Involving the resident in decisions about their care can make them feel empowered and helps provide a sense of self-respect. For example, including the resident in decisions relating to their care is paramount to ensure they feel connected and valued. Without this inclusion, residents can feel dehumanised and experience a detached feeling; like they’re just an object which the care home has complete authority over. Methods of communication should also be addressed in order to ensure residents don’t feel patronised.

Pain management 

Pain management is vital to a residents’ wellbeing. Elderly people are commonly very proud and are less likely to complain when they experience pain. Knowing how to detect pain is important to ensure the resident has a good quality of life. There are many ways to recognise signs of pain without being told, such as restlessness, social isolation and changes in their normal behaviour. Detecting pain in a resident is easier if they are seen by the same caregiver regularly, as trends and changes in behaviour will be more apparent. It also enables the resident to build a relationship with the carer, so they will feel more comfortable admitting to feeling pain.

Personal hygiene 

Personal appearance and hygiene are integral to experiencing high levels of self-respect. For residents that require assistance to maintain their personal hygiene, carers have a responsibility to give them the level of support they need. To maintain dignity, care home staff should always ask for consent before assisting them and communicate openly to talk them through the steps they are taking. It is easy for residents to feel uncomfortable and awkward when it comes to needing help. So by explaining what is happening when it happens, you can reduce this tension and make them feel reassured.

Food and nutritional care

Mealtimes are the highlight of the day for some, so it’s vital to make this an enjoyable time for residents. Care home staff should prioritise making residents feel comfortable around food, for example, if a resident eats particularly slow, they should give them enough time to enjoy their meal and wait until they are finished to clear the table rather than rushing the resident in order to finish a shift.


Privacy is a fundamental aspect of retaining a resident’s dignity. Care home staff can practise small yet meaningful ways to maintain a resident’s privacy, such as knocking before entering their room, not going through their belongings and not discussing any personal endeavours with others. Respecting a resident’s personal space and boundaries is paramount as moving into a care home with other residents can be a significant change from living independently.

Practical assistance 

Care home staff have a responsibility to provide practical assistance to the residents, such as cleaning up after them, helping them with ironing, putting away clothes or putting on their shoes. The level of practical assistance required by residents varies depending on their level of independence. Helping residents complete small daily tasks can help them feel more dignified when they can’t perform the task themselves.

Social inclusion 

Social inclusion is a vital aspect of maintaining a resident’s dignity and well-being. Residents should feel included during social activities and in their day-to-day interactions. Opportunities to participate in activities and make a positive contribution to their community is integral for their dignity. Many care homes have extensive activity programmes including arts and crafts, light exercise and gardening. However, it should be noted that not all residents will be comfortable participating in social activities and their personal preferences should be respected.

What are the core principles of dignity?

In 2014, the National Dignity Council identified seven vital principles of care, giving guidance and help to those working in social care. It was established that the best ways to offer care and support to residents are to:

  • Value every individual’s uniqueness
  • Uphold the responsibility to personalise care and support services around each individual
  • Value communicating with individuals in ways that are meaningful to them
  • Recognise and respect an individual’s dignity may be affected when supported with their personal care
  • Recognise that an individual’s surroundings and environments are important to their sense of dignity
  • Value workplace cultures that actively promote the dignity of everybody
  • Recognise the need to challenge care that may reduce the dignity of the individual

Maintaining dignity is a fundamental aspect of a care home policy to ensure the residents’ well-being is a top priority. By maintaining a resident’s dignity, you are enabling them to feel comfortable in their new living environment and allowing them to build trusting relationships with the care home staff. Methods of upholding dignity may seem like a small, inconsequential thing, but to a care home resident, it can mean the world.

If you are looking for a job as a care worker, take a look at the current job vacancies at The Fremantle Trust. Whether you have experience working in a care home or not, if you want to put people at the heart of your job, and volunteer in the care sectorcontact us today.