The Importance of Dignity and The Dignity Project

Dignity is a concept that is easily discussed but difficult to define and understand. It is used frequently as a guiding principle for best practice across a range of disciplines and industries, including Australian policy and discourse (Australian Law Reform Commission, 2014; Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, 2008). Dignity is also discussed extensively throughout health care research, particularly as part of the significant disability reform movement.  In 2007, Australia ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others (United Nations, 2008) is a basic international human right for people with disabilities. Reform in Australia has further resulted in the establishment of the National Disability Insurance and the National Injury Insurance Schemes, both of which emphasize patient-centered health care and consumer engagement within their own care and reference dignity as an underpinning theme (Slater, 2006). Dignity is referenced throughout clinical discourse, further highlighting its importance to not just policy, but to practical application as well (Chochinov, Hack, McClement, Kristjanson, & Harlos, 2002).

Although dignity is included, identified, and discussed in a wide variety of clinical, health care, ethics, and human rights literature, most discourse focuses on either that which is undignified or on broad tenants of dignity that are nearly impossible to translate into practical application. To overcome this gap in the literature, this research will strive to better understand the peak experiences of dignity for people with disability and impairment and the circumstances surrounding them (Hennessy & Hughes, 2014). This line of inquiry will help to disrupt old patterns and stereotypes and focus on what can actually be done to make experiences of dignity better and more frequent (Hennessy & Hughes, 2014).

The Dignity Project is committed to developing research agendas that will gather examples of dignified and undignified interactions and experience that threaten or facilitate inclusion. By analysing the content of these examples, the project will shine a light on the little things that can make a big difference. Furthermore, The Dignity Project will enable citizens with disability to work collectively to gather and interpret stories that might not otherwise be told. The stories will expose infringements of dignity or inclusion and make recommendations for change that can improve experiences in future. This will produce a reliable flow of co-created information to drive disability and rehabilitation reform.

The Dignity Project Part I and The Dignity Project Community Hub will both be launching soon. Stay tuned to become a member of the Community Hub and to share your experiences via an online questionnaire, both launching in April.

Tags: The Dignity Project, Dignity, Community Hub, Share Your Experiences, Online Questionnaire, Experiences

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