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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?

burberryqueen Thu 11-Jul-13 09:38:14

my dad in his seventies hates being called 'young man' which they do....

Wbdn28 Thu 11-Jul-13 09:41:17

YANBU. People of any age should be treated with dignity and respect by medical staff.

Wholetthedogin Thu 11-Jul-13 09:42:44

You are right, it's a tad patronizing and they shouldn't do it.

I'm not a nurse but work in care and we are trained not to do it.
Better to address someone by their name.

BettySwollocksandaCrustyRack Thu 11-Jul-13 09:42:58

To be honest, when my mum was in hospital, as long as the staff were kind and caring towards her it wouldn't have bothered me.......they have lots of patients to deal with so can't be expected to remember all their names. How would you like them to be addressed....sir??? madam???

I actually think YABU!

allmycats Thu 11-Jul-13 09:43:56

If I am poorly and they are making me better they can (within reasons of decency) call me what they like. Their are far more important things to worry about.

WandaDoff Thu 11-Jul-13 09:44:03

Print these out & stick them to his locker. smile

HappyDoll Thu 11-Jul-13 09:44:42's quite possible that they don't remember their name? To call someone by a genuine (don't call me baby ffs!) term of endearment, in these circumstances, only amplifies their status as carer. They are caring for them and as such must foster good feeling towards them. When you call someone honey, darling whatever, you instantly feel warmer towards them. I think in a hospital setting the majority of people wouldn't mind this at's not an office which is an entirely different scenario.

Midlifecrisisarefun Thu 11-Jul-13 09:44:49

Nurses tried that with my DGM, she had dementia,...she gave the woman who spoke to her as if she was a small child a steely look and said 'my name is Mrs W to you, young lady!'

feetlkeblocksofice Thu 11-Jul-13 09:45:05

It's a habit most of us have fallen into. I'm not saying that it's right by any means but like any habit it takes time to break. I still find myself doing this but far less than I used to, better education for staff will mean that this practise will eventually die out.

MalcolmTuckersMum Thu 11-Jul-13 09:45:53

No - YANBU - and no, they shouldn't necessarily be addressed 'Sir' or 'Madam' - what on earth would be wrong with 'Mr' or 'Mrs' or any other title. Doctor. Professor. Reverend. Or your first name if you made clear to them that that would be ok. But that baby-talk over familiarisation - no need for it. It's condescending and does nothing for patient's self esteem.

BettySwollocksandaCrustyRack Thu 11-Jul-13 09:47:06

So, if you are a nurse on a general ward then you are expected to remember everybodies name?

Justfornowitwilldo Thu 11-Jul-13 09:48:45

It's patronising.

Montybojangles Thu 11-Jul-13 09:50:06

I personally would generally call an older man mr whoever, and an older woman mrs whoever, but I would also possibly use more personal terms if they were upset, confused or distressed as a soothing reassuring thing, never in a day to day straightforward interaction.

I can honestly say I have never heard a colleague call anyone darls, or say anything like ooh you don't like that do you, bless you. It sounds patronising and rude. I wouldnt say that to a child or my dog, never mind a grown man. Anyone saying that sort of crap needs to be asked what they are thinking.

MidniteScribbler Thu 11-Jul-13 09:50:10

I really think it depends on the person delivering it. There are people that can pull it off, and those that can't. I'm not someone who can. I think I sound ridiculous if I try. But I have a good friend for whom it is as natural as breathing and doesn't sound condescending.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 11-Jul-13 09:50:18

To be clear, I'm really not saying anything was unpleasant or deliberate about it, I know they were doing it out of kindliness, I know it's not the worst thing.

Just, this is a grown man, he's had a long and distinguished life and a fine mind, and it's perhaps just sad to hear him addressed in slightly infantilizing terms, even though the -perfectly nice - nurses didn't mean it that way. They did know his name, they showed me to where he was, and they referred to him by it to me - it was just when they were talking to him that the darls popped out, and I think maybe it should be something they could be aware of: that when you're in an undignified position anyway, and you've got 40 years on the people looking after you, you might retain a bit more dignity if you weren't called sweetheart and blessed all the time.

Justfornowitwilldo Thu 11-Jul-13 09:51:02

And if you want to be paid as a professional, act like one.

purplewithred Thu 11-Jul-13 09:51:03

Ambulance crew do it too - I hate it, it's especially bad coming from someone you've never met before unlike nursing where there may be some familiarity. Sometimes it's just laziness but there is often an undercurrent of status/being patronising which drives me nuts. To me they are Sir or Madam (with a smile) until I have a chance to introduce myself and ask them their name.

Wbdn28 Thu 11-Jul-13 09:54:58

> How would you like them to be addressed....sir??? madam???

Nothing wrong with that, is there? But someone's name Mr/Mrs/Ms X would be best of all.

ShatnersBassoon Thu 11-Jul-13 09:55:08

It is a bit patronising I suppose, and overfamiliar for some people, but I'd prefer to be called anything but 'Mrs err, err, <quick shuffle through notes>, Mrs Bassoon...'

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 11-Jul-13 09:55:51

I'm not saying they should be sacked for doing it, or banned, or that they were bang out of order - I just think perhaps it's something they could be a bit more thoughtful about.

Still, better that than my smear test nurse the other day who looked at me and said 'I remember you, you caused me so much grief.

This because they hadn't updated their records with a change of address, and so she took it upon herself to ring up my place of work (which I happened to have mentioned in passing, not given contact details for) in alarmist fashion when my results showed mild abnormalities, and sent a very panic-inducing letter to the address it turned out they did have, after all, saying they didn't know it! So she completely panicked me in a way only allayed when I rang up and talked to someone sensible who put my mind at rest. All water under the bridge now, just one of those things - but 'you caused me so much grief'? Seriously?

50shadesofknackered Thu 11-Jul-13 09:57:46

Ffs! Something else nurses do wrong! Surely the time to worry is if your loved one is not being cared for properly, not that the nurse looking after them calls him sweetheart! I completely agree with not calling a grown up boy or girl, however people call other people sweetheart or darling in everyday life, so what's the problem? Please do get a grip and worry about something real.
Btw I think that the nurse on duty should know the names of the patients they are caring for. They should have a handover sheet they can refer to if they forget.

claraschu Thu 11-Jul-13 09:58:56

Names are on their charts, and don't need to be memorised.

It is horrible to be so patronising, and I have seen nurses use these terms in a PA way when dealing with a difficult, frightened old person. The worst for my poor mother was being patted and called baby names when she was suffering, confused and in pain. She appreciated a dignified approach, and a HCP who explained things using grown-up language. I think titles should be standard for their generation.

Of course what really matters is the help they are getting, but a bit of dignity doesn't cost either time or money.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 11-Jul-13 10:00:11

50 I do think if you read what I've said, it's pretty measured. And that I've said I have no complaints about the nature of the care. It's not a question of 'another thing nurses do wrong': rather, 'might this not be something to bear in mind?'.

Blu Thu 11-Jul-13 10:00:54

There are posters in our local hospital showing an elderly lady saying "my name isn't 'sweetie' or 'dearie' it is Dr Smith'"

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