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26 November, 2008

Respect

A Conservative party spokesperson apparently considers that "most people" will see guidance that nurses should avoid casual use of endearments when addressing elderly in-patients as "the world having gone mad".  Well, I'm certainly not 'most people', and fully support the amendment.  Calling an incapacitated near-stranger "dearie" is belittling, and I would find it objectionable.

Of course, as a nurse established a more personal relationship with a patient, phrasing may evolve, but that can't be forced, and starting with over-familiarity causes avoidable problems. If the patient objects, it sets up an tension in the relationship, whereas if the patient doesn't object it reinforces an inappropriate power imbalance.

I have great respect for nurses, but fundamentally they're there to assist and administer, not to control; they're not authority figures and their relationship with elderly patients (or patients of any adult age) shouldn't automatically be that of a parent-surrogate and child.

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