Dignified care crucial in delivery of health services

Tuesday, February 4th, 2020 00:00 |
Ministry of Health. Photo/Courtesy

Wilson Aruasa 

Dignity signifies how people feel, think and behave in relation to the worth or value of themselves and others. 

Dignified care refers to a relationship between healthcare workers and patients and their relations in terms of being treated with respect, as an individual is involved in decision making and is accorded privacy.

For dignified care to be realised, therefore, there needs to be a clear understanding between health workers and clients. 

Healthcare workers should listen to concerns of clients, furnish them with adequate information relating to their treatment plan, involving them in planning and decision-making, treating them with dignity, empathy and respect, enabling them to have an informed choice, that they can complain without fear of retribution and control over their lives and the services they receive. 

They can choose the best treatment that they are comfortable with from an array of alternatives. 

For many healthcare workers, the desire to help patients in their healing process is what their day-to-day job entails.

Unfortunately, time pressures, systemic issues and complexities can sometimes make it challenging to provide the most sensitive and responsive care possible.

It is important to note that supporting dignity is not an additional task for anyone working in health services.

It is a way of bringing additional insights to the work people are already doing, and a means of helping them get more satisfaction out of their jobs.

The government, through the Ministry of Health, seeks to build a progressive, responsive and sustainable healthcare system for accelerated attainment of the highest standard of health to all Kenyans and as such dignified care for patients is part and parcel of this. 

The right to health is a fundamental right guaranteed in the Constitution of Kenya.

Article 43 (1) (a) of the Constitution provides that every person has the right to the highest attainable standard of health, which includes the right to health care services, including reproductive health.

Similar provisions are also contained in international and regional human rights instruments, such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, both of which Kenya has ratified.

In line with this, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital runs a geriatric clinic focusing on the unique needs of the elderly.

This is aimed at achieving normal healthy aging. Older people need basic and vital support in aspects such as eating, nutrition, personal hygiene and toileting.

We also offer our mental health and rehabilitative services with a lot of human dignity attached. 

Good customer service by healthworkers can, therefore, help mitigate patient complaints especially given the high costs and sometimes longer waiting times in health facilities.

Hospital managers shouldn’t dread handling complaints and receiving patients’ feedback, instead they should set up systems of handling patients’ feedback and complaints in their facilities.

Effective complaint resolution helps in continual improvement. While staff can be given some latitude on executing their mandate, supportive supervision from management must be undertaken.

Conversely, clients should provide, to the best of their knowledge, accurate and complete information about present complaints, past illnesses, hospitalisation, medication and other matters related to their health. 

It is important to note that a great doctor/nurse-patient experience can improve loyalty and strengthen a health system’s brand as well as ensuring patient retention.  

When people visit health facilities, they expect more than treatment – they want care, empathy, concern and clear communication.

More importantly, patients want staff working in health facilities to show they care about the individual’s needs, situation and well-being, which ought to be demonstrated during every interaction.

It, therefore, behoves those of us working in healthcare to rededicate our efforts towards improving service delivery, with a particular focus on customer experience so that we can provide dignified care to patients. — The writer is the CEO of Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital

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