Although codes of conduct, guidelines and standards call for healthcare practitioners to protect patients' dignity, there are widespread concerns about a lack of attention to the dignity of older people who need assistance with toileting, incontinence or bladder or bowel care in health or social care settings that provide long-term care. Incontinence and care dependence threatens patient dignity. The aim of this research was to explore, describe and explain the concept of dignity as it relates to continence care for older people requiring long-term care.
The first four steps of Rodgers evolutionary method of concept analysis were followed. First, a comprehensive and systematic search of databases and key guidelines about continence care was undertaken to identify empirical research about dignity and continence care in older people in facilities that provide permanent residential or inpatient care of older people for day-to-day living. Data were extracted on the authors, date, sample, country of origin, and key definitions, attributes, contexts and consequences from each included record. Findings were inductively analysed and grouped according to whether they were the key attributes and antecedents of dignity in relation to continence care or the consequences of undignified continence care.
Of 625 articles identified, 18 were included in the final analysis. Fifty individual attributes were identified that were categorised in 6 domains (respect, empathy, trust, privacy, autonomy and communication). A further 15 were identified that related to the environment (6 physical and 9 social). Key consequences of undignified continence care were also identified and categorised into 3 levels of impact (resident/family member, staff or organisation).
This research resulted in a conceptual understanding of dignity that can be used as a value or guiding principle in an ethic of care for older people who need assistance with toileting, incontinence or bladder or bowel care in long-term care settings.