In this section:


Every breach of human dignity not only affects the individual victim, but also society as a whole, by raising the question of how we choose to live (and die) and relate to each other. It thereby calls into question the state's role in protecting our dignity.

Dupre 2011

Many of the principles now enshrined in law support dignity in care. This section of the Dignity in care guide provides an overview of the legislation that supports the rights of adults to dignity and respect when using health and social care services. It describes the relevant sections of the Human Rights Act 1998 and some other key legal provisions in the areas of discrimination, mental capacity, sexual offences, information legislation (data protection and freedom of information) and health and safety. The different sources of legislation can sometimes appear to be in conflict. Practitioners should think about how the law can support good practice to promote dignity in care. People using social and health care services and their carers should also be aware of their rights.

Who is it for?

This section is aimed at practitioners and commissioners within health and social care in England and Wales, but it is also relevant to people using services and their carers. It should be helpful to anyone who wants to understand the way legislation protects the rights of people who use services, in particular their right to be treated with dignity and to have their wishes respected.

This guide aims to give an introduction to the subject and provides suggestions for further reading and websites for more specific information.