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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?

Justfornowitwilldo Thu 11-Jul-13 10:01:21

Treating patients with dignity is an integral part of care.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 11-Jul-13 10:02:11

And I think you can have thoughts about some aspects of the whole experience, without saying the whole experience is rubbish.

50shadesofknackered Thu 11-Jul-13 10:16:58

I just don't think that calling somebody sweetheart or darling is necessarily patronising or treating someone without dignity! I agree that calling someone dearie or boy/girl is completely not on and I also hate carers or nurses telling someone they are 'a good lady/man' it makes me cringe and I have pulled someone up about it before. I just think that on the whole nurses work really hard and do their absolute best for the patients in their care (as they should) and a lot of people mainly relatives still do their best to find fault.

lustybusty Thu 11-Jul-13 10:20:33

I kind of agree with you nit. When my grandad was in hospital (not in uk) he had a whiteboard above his head which had on it the following:
Mr Fred [what he had asked to be called-they struggle with his surname in the foreign country, so he asks to be called Mr abbreviated first name iyswim]
Dr X
Nil by mouth
That meant even the cleaners could see what they should call him, who his consultant was, and if he asked for a drink, they had to say no. He expected anyone at his bedside to call him Mrfred, but away from his bed, he didn't mind anything else (but the country is extremely respectful to its elders, so he was always "sir"!)
I think something like that could work well here too...

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 11-Jul-13 10:21:18

50 I think you're being unneccessarily defensive there - and what makes dearie 'completely not on', yet a suggestion that maybe it would be worth considering whether 'sweetheart' and 'darling' might be patronising, or that it would be more thoughtful and considerate not to do that, is 'doing my best to find fault'.

I thought all the nurses were kind, compassionate women doing a good job. If I were in a position to do so, though, I might suggest to them that many patients might feel more comfortable not being addressed like that. That is all.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 11-Jul-13 10:22:43

My first paragraph was badly punctuated, sorry. I just think if you agree 'dearie' is 'not on', you could maybe understand that my query on the others is not me 'doing my best to find fault'.

MamaChubbyLegs Thu 11-Jul-13 10:25:21

YANBU. You can be kind and warm whilst being respectful and using a patient's name.

Saying that though, it is not easy, when you're looking after patients who are frightened, in pain, dying, to reign in that nurturing, loving instinct. It's a delicate balance.

I'm sorry your grandad is unwell. Do you think the nurses are trying to make a frightening experience more familiar and comfortable? If he is not comfortable with it though, it won't work.

If it is out of kindness and good faith, a good nurse will not mind you mentioning it to them. We are all taught to be careful with terms of endearment. Don't be afraid to remind them. Or talk to the sister. If it was some of my staff, I'd be happy to do it for you.

DonDrapersAltrEgoBigglesDraper Thu 11-Jul-13 10:27:05

Don't worry OP, I think most people totally get what you're saying. For probably 80% of the population, this sort of thing is, at best, just lovely, and worst, no harm done.

But for the other 20% it really is just cringeworthily inappropriate, grating, and I dunno, just wrong. I know my Dad just absolutely would not respond well to that sort of talk, whereas it would be perfectly fine for my Mum.

When said to the wrong person, it is deeply patronising and infantilising.

They're probably just being themselves, and are inherently warm, caring people and it seems bad to criticise this. But yeah, I totally get what you're saying.

Totally agree with 50

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 11-Jul-13 10:27:17

Thanks Mama - yes, I do completely think it is all coming from a kindly instinct, I just wonder whether it makes him cringe as much as it does me (he is not really in a position to tell me!).

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 11-Jul-13 10:28:23

Yes, my mum would absolutely hate it, I know this for sure!

And thanks, Don, too. I really don't want this to seem like nurse-bashing - I thought it fairly plainly wasn't!

motherinferior Thu 11-Jul-13 10:32:13

I call most people darling, I have to admit blush but totally take your point.

I also madly hate being called MUM. By people who aren't my children, I mean.

Latara Thu 11-Jul-13 10:32:25

At work on the wards I find that patients often say they feel insulted if I use a title rather than their first name or nickname...

Some of the nurses I work with call everyone by an affectionate term because that's their way and they talk with a regional accent. Even their colleagues get called ''my love'' or whatever.

I try to use names rather than affectionate terms and sometimes there are certain patients that you just know to call by their title!

But we get free healthcare, most nurses are nice (they are!) and I think it's a minor complaint so YABU really.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 11-Jul-13 10:35:40

I'm not even complaining, if you look. I'm saying, is this worth just a bit of reflective practice.

I think the NHS is awesome, I think it does most things very very well - none of that is affected by the fact that I think this particular way of speaking to people might be worth thinking about just a little bit.

If I replied now 'ah bless you sweetheart, do you think I'm unreasonable? Oooh, you don't like me, do you, you get ever so cross, don't you darl, bless you!' wouldn't that feel a bit wrong?

frumpet Thu 11-Jul-13 10:35:51

Oh heck , i am a nurse and am definatly guilty of the odd sweetheart ,usually in the context of discovering mrs x has been sitting in pain and not using her call bell because we are ' so busy ' and doesnt want to bother us , i may have said 'oh sweetheart , i am never too busy to get you pain relief , thats the most inportant part of my job ' .
I do however refer to all patients on meeting them for the first time as mrs, miss ,ms ,mr etc and continue to do so unless they ask to be called by a more informal name .
I try to treat my patients as though they were my own family and so those who are with me longer will get the odd sweetheart , hopefully they appreciate it as a term of endearment , because i do care for and about them .

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 11-Jul-13 10:36:53

Frumpet that's a lovely post.

diddl Thu 11-Jul-13 10:45:47

Can't remember all the patient's names??

Are names not on the notes/bedhead?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 11-Jul-13 10:48:27

Yep, and the door. To be fair, they did know his name too, they just didn't use it to him.

Wbdn28 Thu 11-Jul-13 10:49:13

> however people call other people sweetheart or darling in everyday life, so what's the problem?

If you're on an equal footing with someone and/or you know them well, then fine.

But if you saw your bank manager, your child's teacher, the pizza delivery man or your solicitor, would you say "hello sweetheart/darling" to them? I doubt it would get a good response! Why should it be any different when people are unfortunately in hospital?

motherinferior Thu 11-Jul-13 10:50:45

I do actually call DD2's teacher darling blush

Latara Thu 11-Jul-13 10:52:30

If I don't know a patient's first name I ask them and from the tone of their reply it's easy to tell if they prefer to be known by that or by their title.

If a patient I know well is upset or in pain then I might well use a term of endearment; just as I would with a friend or family member.

My Mum has just had an operation; she said the nurse called everyone 'sweetie', even the young patients, but that it was just her way and (unusually for my mum) she appreciated it.

ageofgrandillusion Thu 11-Jul-13 10:52:41

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.

mignonette Thu 11-Jul-13 10:53:44

I'm a nurse (RNMH) and i am old school in this respect. I use Mr and Mrs or Miss and Ms. I never use first names without permission and that permission needs to be explicit. I hate 'dear' and 'my love' etc and i also dislike the almost universal 'just pop' as in pop over here, or pop your jacket off.....A patient is not my darling or my love.

Retaining a measure of respect and avoiding unnecessary familiarity is a useful 'tool' in ensuring that you retain professionalism and avoid becoming sloppy in attitude and deed.

mignonette Thu 11-Jul-13 10:57:02

Actually yes, you should make an effort to remember a patients name. It is on their notes, by their beds and on their wristlet. Bit different for me as I have a fairly steady caseload but most ward nurses/staff in my local hospital do not care for the entire ward. they have bay nursing teams and as such is no great task to call patients there by their names. And if you so not know their names, there is still no need to use 'love' or 'sweetie' or 'dear' as a substitute.

diddl Thu 11-Jul-13 10:59:30

Well yeah, it's not that hard to ask the patient, is it?

Would seem really odd to me that someone in a professional capacity would call my Dad "my love/my dear"-they're not!

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