Constructions of dignity: a pre-requisite for flourishing in the workplace?


  • B. Joan Yalden PhD Candidate,

  • Brendan McCormack D.Phil (Oxon), BSc (Hons) Nursing, PGCEA, RNT, RMN, RGN

B. Joan Yalden
School of Nursing and Midwifery
Monash University
Telephone: +61 3 9904 4260


yalden b.j. & mccormack b. (2010) Constructions of dignity: a pre-requisite for flourishing in the workplace? International Journal of Older People Nursing 5, 137–147

Aims.  To explore the relationship between nurses’ understanding of dignity and how it is enhanced and developed in their practice environment.

Background.  Dignity is a ubiquitous concept in an era of healthcare reform yet is referred to almost exclusively in terms of the quality of care delivered to support the experience of the patient rather than the caregivers engaged in the relationships of care. This article focuses on dignity in the professional life of nurses in aged care.

Method.  This is part of a doctoral study of the implementation of a palliative approach in residential aged care using emancipatory practice development methodology. Constructions of dignity were co-created with participants through creative reflective activities and subsequently analysed using reflexive methods and data from other sources within the study.

Results.  Constructions of dignity and subsequent actions taken by nurses on their own behalf to articulate their experiences of transforming practice are interconnected with dignity enhancing relationships and emancipatory ways of working in practice development.

Conclusions.  Dignity enhancing ways of working in an active learning group and workplace have been interlinked with actions that promote person-centredness in developing a palliative approach to care.