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Respecting the Privacy and Dignity of the Resident

1.0  Policy

Cowper Care Centre DAC (known as Cowper Care) recognises and respects the resident’s right to privacy and dignity. Cowper Care promotes this through their knowledge of resident’s preferences, respect for their independence and the promotion of a culture of dignity and respect to all residents and visitors of Cowper Care.

2.0  Definitions

2.1  Privacy: “Freedom from intrusion and embarrassment and relates to all information and practice that is personal or sensitive in nature to a resident. Privacy is a key principle, which underpins human dignity, and remains a basic human right and the reasonable expectation of every person.” (The Human Rights Act 1998).

2.2  Dignity: The state or quality of being worthy of respect in providing due regard for the feelings or rights of others (Oxford Dictionary, 2011).

3.0  Responsibility

3.1  Head of Services - Care and Care Manager: Monitor adherence to the process.

3.2  All Staff: Treat the resident with dignity and respect at all times, and promote their privacy.

4.0  Principles

4.1 Upholding the right of all residents to privacy and to be treated with dignity is fundamental to the care provided by Cowper Care. Special consideration shall be given to residents with healthcare associated infections (as per CE-004 Infection Prevention and Control).

4.2  All staff shall demonstrate their respect for the dignity, modesty and privacy of the resident:

  • Through their general demeanor.
  • Through the manner in which they address and communicate with the resident.
  • Through their appearance and dress.
  • By avoiding ageist, racist, sexist or other inappropriate comments or jokes.
  • Through discretion when discussing the resident’s medical condition or treatment needs.
  • Through consideration of the residents expressed expectations and needs.
  • Through consideration of the resident’s privacy, dignity and modesty with other members of staff as well as with other residents.
    (HIQA 2016; JCI, 2012)

4.3  All staff shall be aware that lapses are unacceptable, even when staff are working under pressure (HIQA 2016).

4.4  All staff shall be courteous and helpful to residents of Cowper Care, their relatives/representatives and other staff members at all times (HSE South, 2007).

4.5  High quality services that respect the resident’s dignity shall:

  • Have a zero tolerance to all forms of abuse.
  • Support people with the same respect one would want for oneself or for a member of one’s family
  • Treat each person as an individual by offering person centred care.
  • Enable people to maintain the maximum possible level of independence, choice and control.
  • Listen and support people to express their needs and wants.
  • Respect the resident’s right to privacy, dignity and confidentiality.
  • Ensure the resident feels they are able to and are enabled to complain without fear of retribution.
  • Engage with the resident, their family member and/or representative if appropriate as care partners.
  • Assist the resident to maintain confidence and a positive self-esteem.
  • Act to alleviate the resident’s loneliness and isolation.
    (NHS, 2010)

5.0  Promoting Privacy and Dignity in the Provision of Care

Resident dignity shall be promoted as per Fig 1.0:

Promotion of Resident Dignity
Fig 1.0 Promotion of Resident Dignity

5.1  The resident’s rights shall take paramount importance during all care practice activities (RR-010 Resident Rights – Development, Review, Approval and Communication).

Care practices for the resident shall be personalised to respond to the resident’s individual needs and preferences (HIQA 2016). Following admission, as part of the comprehensive assessment process, specific privacy expectations and needs shall be discussed with the resident and documented in their record and communicated to all relevant staff (see HS-001 Management of Admission, Assessment and Care Initiation and HS-002 Resident Care Plan Development and Implementation).

The staff shall give consideration to the resident’s privacy and dignity requirements at all times especially during each interaction with the resident, whether that interaction is for clinical interviews, examinations, procedures or during transport of the resident. It is recognised that the resident’s expectations and needs regarding privacy may change over time and should, therefore, be reviewed on an ongoing basis (JCI, 2012).

5.2  Where residents require assistance with activities of daily living and/or personal care giving, such as dressing and undressing, eating and drinking, the staff member assisting the resident shall do so in a respectful manner (HIQA 2016).

5.3  Where residents are having examinations by Health and Social Care Professionals, this shall be undertaken in a private setting. The Health and Social Care Professional shall examine the resident in a professional manner (HIQA 2016).

When entering bedrooms, toilets and bathrooms, staff shall firstly knock on the door and alert the resident of their presence. Where residents have the ability to communicate, staff shall wait to enter until permission is given.

The provision of personal and intimate care shall be managed in a way that is sensitive to the resident’s modesty. In every instance, prior to commencing personal care, the staff member shall explain to the resident what they are going to do and verbal consent shall be obtained (see HS-029 Resident Personal Hygiene).

5.4  Where a resident shares a room, the screening shall be used to ensure that their privacy is not compromised when personal care is being given.

6.0  Promotion of Resident Independence

6.1  Residents shall be encouraged to maintain social contacts when they are in Cowper Care.  This may be with community groups, friends and/or family (HIQA 2016, 4.2) (QL-007 Promotion of Residents Social Contacts).

6.2  Residents shall be facilitated to spend time alone, should they wish. There are quiet areas provided within Cowper Care, and the external grounds, where residents can spend time alone.  Residents are not unnecessarily interrupted in their rooms, should they choose to spend time alone there (HIQA 2016) (see also RR-005 Management of Accommodation and Communal Space).

6.3  All residents shall be encouraged to choose their own clothes on a daily basis that shall be appropriate, comfortable and safe. All residents shall be made aware of the laws, regulations and fire safety codes within Cowper Care (JCI, 2012).

Cowper Care shall have appropriate clothing available for residents who cannot provide their own and this clothing shall be kept for the resident’s sole use (HSE South, 2007).

Residents shall be provided with wardrobe space and personal storage in which to keep their clothing and personal possessions within Cowper Care (JCI, 2012). The security of the resident’s property shall be assured as per PR-004 Security of Accounts and Personal Property.    

6.4  The resident’s safety concerns are balanced with their need for privacy and independence. Risks shall be discussed and safety measures agreed. This is documented in the resident’s record (HSE South, 2007).

6.5  Residents shall have access to an advocacy service – Age Action Ireland as per RR-007 Provision of Advocacy Services for Residents. Residents have the right to speak with the advocate in private.

6.6  There is an open-visiting hours policy for family members, however visiting is encouraged between the times of 10am – 9 pm as per RR-006 Visiting Residents at Cowper Care.

6.7  Residents shall be provided with all necessary information to facilitate them to choose.  Information shall be provided in a manner which is easily understood by the resident (See RR-003 Resident Communication Techniques (HIQA 2016).

6.8  Residents are given the choice to participate in individual and/or communal recreational activities. Where residents refuse to participate, this is respected and recorded in their records (HIQA 2016)

6.9  Residents shall be asked what their preferred term of address is. This shall be documented in their record and communicated to all relevant staff (HIQA 2016).

6.10  Residents shall manage their own financial affairs for as long as they wish and have the capacity to do so (HIQA 2016) (PR-004 Security of Accounts and Personal Property).

6.11  Residents shall be encouraged to bring some personal possessions with them to Cowper Care.  This is agreed prior to admission as per HS-001 Management of Admission, Assessment and Care Initiation (HIQA 2016).

6.12  Resident involvement and feedback shall be sought in accordance to RR-011 Education, Involvement, Consultation and Feedback.

7.0  Resident Visitors

7.1  Cowper Care shall provide suitable communal facilities and, in so far as is practicable, a suitable private area, which is not the residents room, for the residents to receive visitors (S.I. No. 415 of 2013) (see RR-006 Visiting Residents at Cowper Care).

7.2  Although there is an open-visiting policy, residents have the right to decline visitors (HSE 2006). If a resident specifies a wish not to see a visitor, the staff nurse shall inform the visitor. The resident’s wish to decline visitors on one particular occasion is not assumed to be the case on another occasion.  Unless explicitly stated by the resident, the resident shall be informed on each occasion when a visitor arrives. Where a resident declines to see a visitor, this shall be documented in their record. (JCI, 2012) (see RR-006 Visiting Residents at Cowper Care).

8.0  Resident External Communications

8.1  All residents shall have access to a telephone for use in private, if they so wish.

8.2  Mail shall be delivered to the resident promptly and unopened. Staff shall assist residents with opening and reading of mail where this is requested by the resident.

8.3  Email correspondence is received, on behalf of the resident, via Cowper Care shall be treated in confidence.

9.0  Staff Education and Reporting

9.1  All staff shall receive education regarding treating residents with dignity and respect, and upholding their privacy.

9.2  Any deviation from this process, where staff are considered not to have treated residents with dignity and respect, shall be addressed via the HR-023 Disciplinary Procedure and an incident report shall be raised as per GM-010 Incident Reporting – Identification, Documentation, Rectification, Review and Communication.

10.0  Records

10.1  Resident Records.

11.0  Audit and Evaluation

Regular Audits shall be undertaken to determine compliance with this policy and procedure. The Care Manager in conjunction with the Head of Services - Care shall complete this via a review of relevant records, including incident reports, through observation and by utilising the appropriate audit tool. Results of these audits are presented to the Management Team.

12.0  References

Health Act 2007 (Care and Welfare of Residents in Designated Centres for Older People) Regulations 2013 (S.I. No. 415 of 2013). Iris Oifigiύil.  

Health Services Executive National Hospitals Office (2006). National Visiting Policy Dublin: Health Services Executive.

Health Service Executive South: The Nursing and Midwifery Planning and Development Unit (Southern) (2007). Essence of Care Clinical Governance Framework – Privacy and Dignity Standards Care Audit Tool.

Health Information and Quality Authority (2016). National Quality Standards for Residential Care Settings for Older People in Ireland 2016.  Dublin: Health Information and Quality Authority.

Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (May 2010) Privacy and Dignity Policy,

CLIN/0067/v1, Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.


AUTHOR (OWNER): Nor-ain Tani, Head of Services - Care
APPROVED BY: Executive Management Team
EFFECTIVE FROM: 28/05/2021
REVIEW DATE: 28/05/2023 Page 1 of 1