Dignity and respect in public services

Here we report on work the previous Commission completed on what people with direct lived experience of poverty had to say about public services and being treated with dignity and respect.

Background
At the start of the summer, the non-statutory Poverty and Inequality Commission recruited an intern, Mary Njoki, to go out and speak to people with direct lived experience of poverty about dignity and respect in public services. In 2016 the First Minister’s Independent Advisor on Poverty and Inequality recommended that the Scottish Government should make sure that public services should be delivered in a way that treated people with dignity and respect. The non-statutory Poverty and Inequality Commission wanted to understand whether Scottish Government actions on this recommendation were having an impact. In particular it wanted to involve people with lived experience in understanding the impact on them.

Main findings
We set out to understand more about how people with direct lived experience of poverty feel about dignity and respect in public services. The stories we heard highlighted how important being treated with dignity and respect is to people and how those instances where this is lacking have a lasting impact.

We also wanted to understand the impact of the actions taken in response to the recommendation around providing more training around dignity and respect in public services. As expected it was difficult to disentangle the effects of any training with other factors. However, what is clear is that those people who use the services cannot point to a significant change in how they feel they are treated by different public services. It is early days but we wanted to make the point that this is the crucial test of impact. Nevertheless, it is an extremely positive first step that there are examples of training, such as the NSPCC training, where there has been a very positive impact on the staff who have completed the training. We look forward to this filtering through services and the impact being felt by the people who receive the services.

Areas for action
We have identified a few areas of action on the back of this work:
  1. Ensure that involving people with direct lived experience in the design and delivery of public services is done meaningfully. We spoke with a lot of people who were eager to be involved and this is a resource that should be tapped into more.
  2. Training around the delivery of dignity and respect in public services should be, at the very least, co-designed and co-delivered by people with direct experience of poverty.
  3. Measuring impact of actions is not always an easy thing to do. However, it is important to consider the impact of actions on people.
The full findings can be downloaded here. You can also read more about how we are taking forward our work with people with direct lived experience of poverty here.

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