Dignity in senior home care

The spine surgery and the home care service thereafter

Maintaining a patient’s dignity in senior home care is a key aspect of quality care.

Ravindranath Gupta is a senior who started experiencing loss of feeling and function in the limbs after his nerves were affected following spine surgery. From being completely bedridden to being able to walk with support, he has come a long way. It has been three years since he has been a client of Life Circle, a home care service provider. He says that he is completely dependent on caregivers for moving around, bathing and toileting. He talks to us about how a caregiver can support a patient’s dignity.

What good home care is all about

Ravindranath Gupta spoke at length on how the loss of independence can be extremely frustrating. It makes him angry and helpless at times. But he manages to calm himself down in a minute. He spoke about the many caregivers that have served him over this period. He mentions that treating the patient with respect is the most important quality of not only a caregiver but any health professional. Understanding the patient’s suffering and treating him or her with empathy affirms patient dignity.

His favourite caregiver was Premalatha Dhruva. And he has words of praise for her “Main abhi bhi yaad kar leta hoon usko, bahut accha kaam karti thi, sweet baat karti thi, Bohot clever thi, bar bar batane ki zaroorat nahin.” (I think of her even now. She used to work very well, spoke very politely, and was intelligent. And she didn’t need to be checked constantly.)

Occasionally, he suffers from bowel incontinence. Premalatha would maintain her calm composure through such situations. And she never let him feel awkward. He liked her because she looked at him beyond his condition. And she treated him like a “person” and not a “patient”. Though caregivers may be good at their job, some can be impersonal and mechanical.

Circumstances led Premalatha to leave her job at Life Circle as she had to take care of her own mother who was bedridden.

Losing independence is a common experience as people age. Therefore, we should encourage seniors to accept help. There’s a quote by Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, people will never forget how you made them feel”. That is the spirit of good caregiving.

Useful pointers for home attendants

Team Life Circle offers sensitive and compassionate care. In addition, the team understands the importance of upholding the dignity of each of their clients. Here are some pointers Life Circle shares with caregivers about dignity in senior home care:

  1. It is important to address the client with respect.
  2. Caregivers must wish the client when they come in every morning and again before leaving in the evening.
  3. Respect the senior’s choices. E.g., ask them, “What would you like to wear today? “, “Do you want to wash your hair today?” Respect the client’s choice of style. Ask if the patient wishes his or her hair to be made in a certain way. Or if she wants to wear a ‘bindi’ or wear his or her choice of clothes, accessories, etc.
  4. A patient is bound to be self-conscious while dressing/undressing. Make the situation less uncomfortable. Ask for consent; talk through while going about with the care activity
  5. Respect the dietary preferences of people.
  6. Let the senior maintain his (or her) independence as much as possible. Let him (or her) indulge in different indoor and outdoor activities. E.g., a senior may like performing ‘pooja’ or praying or visiting a temple. The senior’s wishes should be honoured.
  7. Do not eavesdrop on conversations of a sensitive and personal nature.
  8. Be all ears when the senior speaks.
  9. Life Circle solicits feedback from clients in an endeavour to uphold every client’s dignity.

About the author

Madhumita is a familial caregiver to her mother-in-law who lives with dementia and a full-time mom of a bubbly 3-year-old. She meets and interacts with Life Circle’s clients to understand various aspects of Geriatric care and care needs with the aim of serving our clients in a better way.


Leave a Reply