Nursing Times Award Winner

Relatives can unintentionally compromise the dignity of their loved ones.

We are very grateful to the person who wrote to us with this moving story. For obvious reasons, she wishes to remain anonymous. Sadly, similar stories happen all the time. The relative didn't mean to be insensitive. Often, they are worrying so much about their loved ones, they simply don't think about the embarrassment they may be causing to someone who may be too ill or embarrassed to speak out.

The patient in this story had a leg in plaster following a serious operation. She was too ill to wash herself. But, however poorly she was feeling, her need to maintain her dignity was still vitally important to her. To this day, she still remembers the moment when that dignity was deeply compromised by a loved one who simply didn't say to herself "What if that was me?'

She writes....

'My mother was sat near the bed end as the nurse entered with a bowl of water. She said 'you don't mind your mother being here do you' as she embarked on an intimate wash, the plaster cast meaning no dignity was spared. I was terribly embarrassed but was too unwell to say otherwise. It was a terribly uncomfortable moment, I guess for us both, and I've never forgotten it. Just because a close relation is at one's bedside, it shouldn't automatically mean that they should be witness to everything that goes on at one's bedside.'

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