Treat me as me

Mrs Susheela Lourie


Dignity means respect.  I do worry sometimes about what’s going to happen in the future. As I get older I would expect people to treat me with respect. You know, our outward appearances, I look as if I’m from India somewhere and originally, of course, my parents were from South India. But I’m second generation so my culture, it’s not really Indian culture. But it might be that care workers thought “Oh, we’ve got an Indian elderly person here, um, we must talk about her diet and her uh methods of prayer and fasting and so on”. 

I mean, people say, “Oh, you know you belong to the Indian community you’ll be well looked after by your family and there are plenty of respect given to you”.  And I think that happens in India more but in this country I don’t think, I think it’s a bit of a myth. I think that more and more um people from BME communities end up in care because their families have perhaps moved away or, or there isn’t quite the same sort of um, family close knit feeling about it. So, ideally one, one would like to be, you know, with one, ones nearest and dearest and uh, just go peacefully, but it doesn’t always happen that way. 

You know, on the one hand you want people to respect your difference, but at the same time you want to be accepted as ordinary.  If I’m in care, then I expect people to treat me as me, um. To find out what makes me tick, uh, what preferences I have.  What differences I have. When I was in hospital last year, um they were very caring and, and um respectful and asked me about my diet and that was partly to do with having diabetes. Um, but partly I think due, they thought I might, you know, not eat pork and bacon.  In actual fact (laughs) I love a bacon butty, um. But also they were concerned about  uh a difference maybe in hygiene. But I like to, to bath every day and I would expect, if I could for that tradition to be carried out.  I also like my skin to be oiled, um and I think uh maybe nurses don’t have time to do that sort of thing. So those sort of duties might be carried out by a member of the family. As in fact happened when my mother was dying. 

I would expect them to ask questions of me, um, unless you know, unless I was severely incapacitated and could no longer make my wishes known. When I had that small TIA, my husband was with me and so that meant that questions were asked of him as well of as me. As soon as they realised I hadn’t lost my voice, I think, I think it was alright, they addressed me. Sometimes people are just, just called by their first name, whether they wish to be or, even worse, you know to be called “come on granny”. 

It’s nice to be asked first, you know, how, how, “how do wish us to address you?”  But I was very pleased with the care that we had. And it was better than when one was stuck in bed and there were care workers doing things to your bed, or rearranging your flowers and so on and um, talking to themselves and not to you.  I thought that was terribly rude, and, and you know I would have said something but I didn’t feel well enough at the time.

My religious belief is a help and that would be a great plus for me, if I was away from my own home that I had regular visits from a Catholic priest.  Because dignity is to do with possibly, with choice and autonomy and if you are incapacitated then you have a certain amount of restriction on choices and certainly on your autonomy.  So you’ve got to try and if you can, make sure that they do respect your, your needs if you like, your choices and that they give you choices. Sometimes people don’t have any choices.