Nursing Times Award Winner

It's not what you say, it's the way that you say it

It happened one evening. It was the end of a busy day and I was keen to tell a Director of Nursing about a meeting I had just had with a Health Minister. I felt the news was sufficiently exciting for it to be okay to visit her office. She had, after all, made it clear to all of us that she had an 'open door' policy.

So, bubbling with excitement, I went to her office. But when her PA popped her head round her door and told her I wanted a quick word, she shouted 'Five minutes, and five minutes only.'

It burst my bubble in an instant. But it also made me wonder how she might have treated me had I knocked on the front door of her own home. I doubt the response would have been the same. She may have been equally busy, but I suspect she may have said something along the lines of...

"I'm really sorry but I'm right in the middle of something at the moment. Can I possibly ring you later or find a time to meet up tomorrow. If we talk now, I'd have to dash off in a few minutes and I'd feel awful about that."

The end result is the same but the tone of the second response is very different.

It takes courage to visit your boss. Being rebuffed can be extremely demeaning. It certainly doesn't make someone feel valued. Instead, it makes them feel small.

We are constantly being told that 'dignity' should be at the heart of everything we do and say. Some senior staff don't always remember to practice what they preach.

But there is something that they could, and should, do to make a difference.

Led by the National Dignity Council, across the country over 40.000 Dignity Champions have formed a nationwide network of individuals and organisations who work to put dignity and respect at the heart of UK care services to enable a positive experience of care for patients in hospital, residents of Care Homes and the staff who care for them.

For more information on how to become a Dignity Champion through The National Dignity Council go to


Jill Fraser

Jill Fraser

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