Friday, 15 January 2010

Sir Michael Parkinson as the Government’s ‘Dignity Ambassador’

Sir Michael Parkinson is the UK Government’s so-called ‘Dignity Tsar’. He has come up with many suggestions for improving the treatment in care homes for the elderly, much of it based on the experience of his own mother. In parallel to this, Sir Gerry Robinson has been looking into the state of care homes in a television programme and coming up with his own insights and advice.

Those responsible nationally will be hearing of the many views and suggestions for improvement and many will find themselves agreeing with them. This is all very interesting and pertinent. But the serious question is ‘How can this become an agenda that can be operationalised?’. Which brings us, as ever, to leadership and its role in bringing about change.

It was reported that after the Robinson programme, the wife of Phil Hope, the government minister for social care, phoned him to ask: "And what are you going to do about it?" Some commentators offer the familiar formula of an injection of money and training, a re-evaluation of professional caring, and the recruitment and retention of compassionate and dedicated staff. But there is more to leadership than that, beginning with a systemic understanding of what is going on.

There are basically two kinds of possible intervention in a case like this. If you would like to know how these would work in this context, please email