Dignity-Conserving Care: A Case Study

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The A, B, C and D of Dignity-conserving care is a mnemonic used to remember the fundamental aspects of dignity-conserving health care (Chochinov, 2007:13). This mnemonic helps health professionals to remember to not only help care for their patients physically, but also to care about their patients (Peabody, 1927, quoted by Chochinov, 2007:13).

The A of dignity-conserving care refers to Attitude. This stresses the healthcare professional’s attitude towards his/ her patient and that they must be open-minded and not prejudiced in any way (Chochinov, 2007:13). According to Remen (2001, quoted by Chochinov, 2007:13), attitude can be defined as ‘an enduring, learnt predisposition to behave in a consistent way towards a given class of objects (or people), or a persistent mental or neural state of readiness to react to a certain class of objects (or people), not as they are but as they are conceived to be’. This means that health professionals must always be wary about the assumptions they make. Making an (incorrect) assumption could lead to an incorrect diagnosis or treatment for their patient, such as the assumption that a homeless person is intoxicated rather than
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The B of dignity-conserving care stands for behaviour and refers to the way in which healthcare professionals treat their patients (Chochinov, 2007:13). They need to be aware that they play a significant role in their patients’ feelings of self-worth and self-esteem, which ultimately can impact on their patients’ recovery, as well as their willingness to share vital and personal information with their health professional (Chochinov, 2007:14). This means that healthcare professionals need to behave in a professional, kind and respectful manner in order preserve the dignity of their clients/patients (Chochinov,