5 Jun, 09 | by John Offen
Dignity in practice is a hot topic at present. The media regularly publish horror stories of poor care, and it is drummed into us students that we must put dignity first when dealing with patients. Furthermore, the community practice where I am working is undertaking a dignity survey, canvassing patient’s experiences of the district nursing service, so when my mentor and I visited elderly Mrs Potts, dignity in care was ringing in our ears. Mrs Potts had a sore bottom, and we had been asked to visit to assess it, and plan the care needed. We introduced ourselves, and explained why we had come. Mrs Potts was a little upset. Nurses from another practice had already visited that morning to take some blood, had not said who they were, and had left the back door open when they left. She had made a complaint about them. Ah we thought, how lax of them. We would have expected better things from our fellow nurses. Perhaps we secretly felt slightly smug that our team were more professional. Mrs Potts was initially anxious about baring her bottom, so I discretely left the room whilst my mentor, after seeking permission, gently inspected the offending buttock. When we got up to go, Mrs Potts became distressed about some family issues, so we stayed and chatted to her for a while. I was impressed by my mentor’s quiet caring attitude. We left promising to come again to check on her, and she thanked us for our efforts. As we departed, we were surprised to find that the door latch was jammed, and only some deft work with a pen allowed us to secure the door. “What a lovely lady,” we commented to each other as we drove back to the office. A shock awaited us. Mrs Potts had just rung in to complain about a nurse and a student who had marched into her house, and pulled down her pants without a word about who they were or why they were there. I was stunned. I could not imagine how my mentor could have treated her with more respect or kindness. It was fortunate that I was there to witness the good quality care that actually took place.