Privacy and Dignity

 

​​​Improving privacy and dignity is one of our top priorities. We take very seriously our commitment to making your time in hospital as comfortable as possible and ensuring that you receive high quality care that is safe, effective and focused on your needs.

We treat patients in same-sex areas wherever possible, but there are times, particularly in an emergency, when patients may have to be treated in an area with the opposite sex. This is because we want to treat you as quickly as possible and your safety and saving your life is our first priority.

This might happen particularly in our high dependency areas such as coronary care units, high dependency units or acute care bays. In every case we will move you into a same sex area as soon as possible to continue your care.

Delivering Same Sex Accommodation - Declaration of compliance 2016

We are proud to confirm that mixed sex accommodation has been eliminated on all inpatient areas at University Hospitals of North Midlands. Respect and dignity is high on our agenda. Providing high quality accommodation that meets the requirements of single sex accommodation has been a central part of the new and refurbished buildings and development of care that integrates respect and dignity into every day practice. Our new wards have a high percentage of side rooms and the existing wards have become single sex facilities.

Our commitment

Every patient has the right to receive high quality care that is safe, effective and respects their privacy and dignity. University Hospitals of North Midlands is committed to providing every patient with same sex accommodation because it helps to safeguard their privacy and dignity when they are often at their most vulnerable and we are proud to confirm that mixed sex accommodation has been eliminated on all inpatient areas of our Trust.

Patients who are admitted to our hospital will only share the room where they sleep with members of the same sex and same sex toilets and bathrooms will be close to their bed area. Sharing with members of the opposite sex will only happen by exception based on clinical need, for example when patients need specialist equipment such as in ITU or CCU, or when requiring close observation such as stroke monitoring or when patients choose to share, for example when undergoing dialysis or chemotherapy.

What does this mean for our patients?

Other than in the circumstances set out above, patients admitted to University Hospitals can expect to find the following:

- Same sex accommodation means: The room where your bed is will only have patients the same sex as you

- Your toilet and bathroom will be just for your gender and will be close to your bed area.

- It is possible that there will be both men and women patients on the ward, but they will not share your sleeping area. You may have to cross a ward corridor to reach your bathroom, but you will not have to walk through opposite sex areas.

- You may share some communal space, such as day rooms or dining rooms and it is very likely that you will see both men and women patients as you move around the hospital (e.g. on your way to x-ray or the operating theatre).

- It is probable that visitors of the opposite gender will come into the room where your bed is, and this may include patients visiting each other.

- It is almost certain that both male and female nurses, doctors and other staff will come into your bed area.

- If you need help to use the toilet or take a bath (e.g. you need a hoist or special bath) then you may be taken to a 'unisex' bathroom, used by both men and women, but a member of staff will be with you and other patients will not be in the bathroom at the same time.

- You will not be turned away just because a 'right-sex' bed is not immediately available.

What are our plans for the future?

The Trust Board actively supports patients' privacy and dignity and will receive regular reports on the progress made towards a gold standard of accommodation. We will audit how successful the new environment has been in enhancing privacy and dignity.

The Trust is compliant with government legislation. However, there is still work to be done in embedding the systems and processes, cultural attitudes and behaviours associated with the Privacy and Dignity agenda. The agenda will be delivered through the Privacy and Dignity steering group. Strong active leadership from the matrons and staff leading on quality issues ensures that all activities are well co-ordinated and monitored through the Proud to Care initiative.

How will we measure success?

We will measure success by asking people for their views through surveys and patient groups. We consider all issues raised through complaints or PALS and make changes where we need to. Any cases of mixing are monitored and reported in accordance with our mixed sex escalation procedure. Incidents are reported through our reporting process and root cause analyses are reviewed through the Patient Experience Group.

We will continue to audit the accommodation to ensure that it meets the environmental agenda for delivering single sex accommodation, but also that staff are creating a culture and practice that promotes dignity in care.

The privacy and dignity agenda is woven into the clinical quality assurance processes and we are held to account by our own Trust Board and through commissioning arrangements.

What do I do if I think I am in a mixed sex accommodation?

We want to know about your experiences. Please contact University Hospitals direct if you have any comments or concerns. You can contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on 01782 672317 or email patient.advice@uhns.nhs.uk.

 

What should you expect when admitted to hospital?

At times, there may be no alternative to treating men and women together, for example in high-tech, critical or intensive care (with one-to-one nursing), very specialised care or urgent/emergency care. 

- Mixed-sex accommodation, where men and women have to share sleeping areas or toilet and washing facilities.

- Same-sex accommodation, where specific sleeping areas and toilet and washing facilities are designated as either men-only or women-only.

- Same-sex wards, where the whole ward is occupied by men or women only.

- Single rooms.

- Mixed wards, where men and women are in separate bays or rooms.

- Toilet and washing facilities should be easily accessible and, ideally, either inside or next to the ward, bay or room. Patients should not need to go through sleeping areas or toilet or washing facilities used by the opposite sex to access their own. 

It is clear from what patients tell us that being in mixed-sex accommodation can compromise their privacy and dignity at a time when they may already be feeling vulnerable. The most common concerns include physical exposure, being in an embarrassing or threatening situation, noise and the possibility of other patients overhearing conversations about their condition.​