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Date: 19 June 2021

Time: 21:43

Dignity in Care: Philip Norman

Dignity in Care

Chief Nurse Philip Norman sadly passed away on Monday 28 August 2017.

In discussion with our Chief Nurse, Philip Norman - Margaret Harries, Lead Nurse for Older Adults asked Philip for his view on why dignity in care is important at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB).

Philip said:

“For me, being treated with dignity is a fundament human right and should never be an optional extra, it’s about treating the individual (and their family/carers/friends) with compassionate and person centred care each time, every time. It’s about seeing the individual and respecting them. It’s about delivering our Trust vision: Delivering the best in care and our core values of Respect, Responsibility, Honesty and Innovation along with utilising our "See Me" approach to care”.

Philip also referred to the importance of the “10 Dignity Do’s” which were launched by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (which aims to put dignity and respect at the heart of UK care services) and refers to dignity in care as being in the heart, mind and actions.

The 10 Dignity Do's

  1. Have a zero tolerance of all forms of abuse
  2. Support people with the same respect you would want for yourself or a member of your family
  3. Treat each person as an individual by offering a personalised service
  4. Enable people to maintain the maximum possible level of independence, choice and control
  5. Listen and support people to express their needs and wants
  6. Respect people's right to privacy
  7. Ensure people feel able to complain without fear of retribution
  8. Engage with family members and carers as care partners
  9. Assist people to maintain confidence and positive self-esteem
  10. Act to alleviate people's loneliness and isolation

Philip also reflected on a poem which he was originally given when he commenced his nurse training in 1986. The poem was reported to have been found among the possessions of a female patient who had died in an older adult ward of a hospital near Dundee in Scotland.

"Crabby Old Woman – Phyllis McCormack"

What do you see, nurse, what do you see?
What are you thinking when you're looking at me?
A crabby old woman, not very wise,
Uncertain of habit, with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles her food and makes no reply
When you say in a loud voice, "I do wish you'd try!"
Who seems not to notice the things that you do, and
Forever is losing a stocking or shoe.....
Who, resisting or not, lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill....

Is that what you're thinking?
Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse; you're not looking at me.
I'll tell you who I am as I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, as I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of ten ....with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters, who love one another.
A young girl of sixteen, with wings on her feet,
Dreaming that soon now a lover she'll meet.
A bride soon at twenty -- my heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows that I promised to keep.
At twenty-five now, I have young of my own,
Who need me to guide and a secure happy home.
A woman of thirty, my young now grown fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last.
At forty, my young sons have grown and are gone,
But my man's beside me to see I don't mourn.
At fifty once more, babies play round my knee,
Again we know children, my loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead;
I look at the future, I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing young of their own,
And I think of the years and the love that I've known.
I'm now an old woman ...and nature is cruel;
'Tis jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles, grace and vigour depart,
There is now a stone where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass a young girl still dwells,
And now and again, my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, I remember the pain,
And I'm loving and living life over again.
I think of the years ....all too few, gone too fast,
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people, open and see,
Not a crabby old woman; look closer ...see ME!!

Almost 30 years later Philip has never forgotten this poem and the impact it can still have in our day to day work as we go about caring for our patient and their families/friends. 

Philip added “You may wish to read this poem when you are next caring for your patients and I hope it may also reminisce with you and remind each and every one of us about the fundamental need for us to see the individual in our care and to provide compassionate, person centred to each individual, every time.”

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