To wish that nurses would think twice about calling older people 'sweetheart' and 'darling'

(302 Posts)
TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 11-Jul-13 09:36:12

I know, I know, they are trying to be nice, they are good people, if all I have to worry about is the terms of endearment the HCPs use, I have a lucky life, etc.

But I can't help feeling that many older people (and younger, too, actually, because they do it to them too) inwardly flinch at being called sweetheart and darls, with lots of 'bless yous' in between. Which is what nurses in particular seem to do.

My grandad's a grown up man with all his faculties; he's not quite with it at the moment after surgery, and the indignity of that position seems to me to made worse when, towards the end of your life, you're suddenly addressed like a baby. 'Alright darls, ooh you don't like that do you, bless you' etc - I know they're trying to be kind, and they are kind, but couldn't they just think twice about how they address people older than them, and consider that it might be a tad patronizing?

Or is that unreasonable of me?

MissSparrow Thu 11-Jul-13 11:00:43

I like it.
I agree that some people might find it patronising, but I find it hugely reassuring!! I'd hate to be addressed as 'Miss Sparrow' if I was feeling nervous, a 'sweetie' would probably make me feel calmer smile

50shadesofknackered Thu 11-Jul-13 11:01:12

Op, I probably am being defensive because I feel that nurses often get a lot of unfair criticism and most of us do our very best for each person in our care. Terms like Dearie, do seem patronising to me so I wouldn't use them, things like sweetheart are used by people every day. On the whole I use my patients' first or mr/mrs X names, however if I do call them sweetheart, as I sometimes do, I don't think I'm treating them without dignity, it's just an affectionate term. You must remember that nurses often build up a relationship or at least a rapport with their patients'. If you don't like it you must speak to the member of staff.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 11-Jul-13 11:01:18

Well Jeeeezzz at the idea that any comment about something that might just possibly be worth considering - which is all I've ever said - it getting uptight, looking for things to complain about, nurse-bashing etc.

What you're called does matter, and it might be nice to think about that.

mignonette Thu 11-Jul-13 11:01:25

With regards to a patient being frightened, confused or with the more profound effects of the dementia type conditions, actually using their given name 'Mr X' or 'Mrs X' can help ground and orientate them. Dearie/sweetie/love can mean anyone. Their name is their name and memory of it can often be retained long after other memories have been compromised.

frumpet Thu 11-Jul-13 11:02:02

I tend to use it when people are upset or distressed or in pain , just as i do when the children skin their knees or DH stubs his toe , its my ' i am here and i care ' word .

diddl Thu 11-Jul-13 11:02:11

"There is a warmth and affection in such terms. It beggars belief that we have now reached the stage where people can somehow get uptight about their use. Jeeeezzz."

I disagree.

I think that it's patronising, especially when the older person is vulnerable, maybe stripped of all dignity.

Perhaps all they have left is to be afforded some respect-in the form of someone actually remembering or bothering to ask their name.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 11-Jul-13 11:03:03

I never said any of them weren't doing their best - I've said repeatedly that I thought they were lovely.

But you can be lovely and still there might be some things whose effects you haven't totally thought about, that is all.

LRDLearningKnigaBook Thu 11-Jul-13 11:04:16

Absolutely YANBU.

When my grandpa was ill, they decided he must be 'confused' because they were calling him pet and he seemed upset, so someone said 'do we call you John then, ducks', and he said No, thank you, I'm Mr Smith. He was really upset because he came from a generation where it was rude to use first names and he thought they were taking away his dignity; they though he couldn't remember his name. sad

I can see it was just mistakes on both sides and nurses are busy, but I think if you're caring for elderly people it matters. Someone elderly who is ill can go from being lucid to confused very fast, and sometimes all it takes is taking them out of their usual surroundings - not bothing to use their name won't help there either - but if you decide someone is confused because you don't understand their background, there's a problem. IMO.

meddie Thu 11-Jul-13 11:05:16

Im an old school nurse and it was drilled into me that you referred to patients by their title initially, until you could ask them their preferred method of address.
I too cringed when my dad was in hospital and they called him sweetie. Yanbu, but i think its just a lazy habit they develop because they are so busy.

badguider Thu 11-Jul-13 11:05:52

My mum managed a care home and she would never be so patronising. However, I do think that nurses who use those terms to each other and to everybody are only being natural to use them with patients. It's sort of a regional thing as well in terms of use of 'hen' and 'lovely' and things.

However, a good rule of thumb is if it's not how you would talk to the lady in the shop then don't do it with an older person in care/hospital.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 11-Jul-13 11:07:44

... and also, I am sure, Meddie, because they are essentially kind people (well, these ones were).

I'm just saying, maybe sometimes it's worth thinking about, because it seemed odd and incongruous.

Justfornowitwilldo Thu 11-Jul-13 11:10:11

These are independent adults who are suddenly in their nightwear with some stranger younger than their grandchildren responsible for changing them or helping them shower. Please treat them with dignity.

frumpet Thu 11-Jul-13 11:12:02

Just remembered the occasional ' oh you poor love ' , when someone is rolling around in pain . I think i am probably a hopeless case and should be removed from the register forthwith .

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 11-Jul-13 11:14:29

frumpet you don't think that's what I'm saying, do you?

maddy68 Thu 11-Jul-13 11:21:20

I like it. But then again I'm a northerner and we all use terms of endearment in our everyday language. It makes me feel staff are 'warmer'

RestingUnderTheSun Thu 11-Jul-13 11:21:50

I have to say, I am with the OP here.
If I was rolling around in pain and someone was telling me 'Oh poor love', I would hate it!
I would feel patronized and certainly not supported.

guanosoup Thu 11-Jul-13 11:22:33

I recently nursed an 103 year old man. He came to our ward angry and very defensive. On questioning him, it turned out that on a previous admission elsewhere, he felt that he had been spoken to in very patronising terms, whilst mentally he was far more adept than many people much younger than him.
We ended up having a brilliant working relationship with him, that was based on mutual respect.

I will use terms of endearment, but usually to someone who is distressed, in pain etc. If I baby talk to my patients, they cannot trust me to impart important information in a professional manner.

PS it's bloody easy to forget a patients make when there are 25 of them and you've only met that morning, and you're in the loo with them and no board above their head.
Thats when you take a quick shifty at their name band!

hurricanewyn Thu 11-Jul-13 11:22:47

I think I do this blush

I work on the nurse bank, so generally I don't know the patients very well when I'm on the ward. Our local hospital doesn't have names above the bed saying anyone's names (data protection apparently hmm ), so if someone calls for my attention from across the room/bay I'll answer with a "Yes, lovely", rather than get out my handover sheet to figure out who's calling me.

But if I'm at the bedside doing something I make sure I use the patient's name - and ask what they prefer to be called.

In my defence though, everyone is "lovely" - people in the shop, my neighbours, my DC/DH. Even my GP. blush

hurricanewyn Thu 11-Jul-13 11:24:13

And I don't do the patronising "Aren't you brave/good etc" or call older women Nan which I've heard locally.

RestingUnderTheSun Thu 11-Jul-13 11:24:50

If I baby talk to my patients, they cannot trust me to impart important information in a professional manner.

YY to that!

guanosoup Thu 11-Jul-13 11:25:34

FFS.. Patients make = patients name...

TimeofChange Thu 11-Jul-13 11:31:24

I agree with the Op, but really as long as the patients are treated with kindness it doesn't really matter.

frumpet Thu 11-Jul-13 11:31:50

No ,that last post was tongue in cheek ! I completely understand where you are coming from , i cannot stand it when people 'baby' adults , it makes me cringe .
The thing is, being in hospital is horrible , you have little or no control over your surroundings , you cant even make a cup of tea when you want one , you are surrounded by strangers , you are in a crappy single bed , if you get pain you have to wait until someone else gets you something to take it away , if you are too hot or cold you have to rely on someone else to do something about it , people ask you if you have had a poo at least 400 times a day , they may even require to keep said poo as a sample , they are going to come and poke , prod and worse you every few hours and you will get absolutely no sleep whatsoever .
Being patronised on top of that really is the cherry on the cake isnt it .

frumpet Thu 11-Jul-13 11:36:10

Did i mention that my 'oh you poor love ' is followed by me sprinting to the cupboard to get some morphine !

frumpet Thu 11-Jul-13 11:36:59

For the patient blush

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