We all understand the importance of human dignity. It’s one of the ethical concepts that is fundamental to our being—a property of all humans—regardless of culture. It’s an ancient universal and complex idea, found in various traditions whether the Jewish Torah, the Christian Canon, the Indian Laws of Manu, or writings of the Roman Stoics.
While dignity has been understood differently by different people at different times, there’s a universal conviction that because dignity is an intrinsic human value, it is not relative and therefore cannot be determined by social status, intellectual function, age, or stage of illness. It’s inherently about each person’s freedoms as a unique human, but at the same time about being within a community in which dignity is conferred. In some instances, that community might diminish one’s dignity by the actions taken, but each individual deserves, on the basis of their humanity alone, respect that includes being given the protection needed, particularly in times of distress or weakness.
Dignity given and received creates a stronger, more positive connection to the betterment of both.
Within the healthcare setting, dignity is a core value essential to the concept of “person-centered” care. Patients, their families, alongside caregivers and providers, all participate in giving and receiving dignity. The demands of dignity are practical, and powerful. We mutually listen, expressing kindnesses and consideration, to achieve better outcomes. We empower all persons to take care of themselves, to develop their ability to live and maintain a full, hopeful life, and to safely express themselves, especially with regard to personal care decisions.
Our ALICEhelps team came together out of our shared experiences with the healthcare system. We are all driven caregivers and were pushed to our limits when caring for our loved ones. We have been advocates of dignity as an agent of well-being. We are creating smart, integrated tools to help others overcome the challenges we confronted, supporting the dignity of patients and families, their caregivers, and the clinicians serving them.