What’s in a name?  
Posted by: Alistair Clay | 18.09.15


A care home hit the headlines last week after CQC inspectors reprimanded staff for using affectionate names with residents such as sweetie, love, darling and handsome.

CQC officials alleged the terms of endearment were patronising and demeaning and insisted they were not used.

The home, Brackenley Residential Care Home in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, hit back saying the residents liked the informal terms and said they were indicative of a caring and compassionate culture.

The CQC has since clarified its position with the Deputy Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care for the North Region, Debbie Westhead, saying: “There is absolutely nothing wrong about care home managers and staff using affectionate terms of endearment to address people in their care.

“We recognise and welcome this is part of the compassionate and person-centred care approach that we expect providers to deliver and that people simply deserve.

“But what is most important is that people, and their families, are happy and comfortable with all aspects of their care, and whose individual wishes and preferences are always understood and responded to appropriately.

And therein lies the key point – what do the residents themselves (and their loved ones) want?

Quality care should be truly personalised and uniquely tailored to each individual. Having one blanket rule banning terms of endearment is as misguided as thinking it’s fine to call everyone “love”. What does the person you are talking to think and feel?

Certainly when my own grandfather was in hospital at the end of his life I did find it disrespectful that a nurse spoke to him a PATRONISING LOUD VOICE calling him ‘dearie’. So in that incidence it was wrong to use such language.

But other people may like, and be used to, nicknames and informal language – and if they are that’s fine too.

Let’s apply a little common sense to the very useful guidelines and frameworks for elderly care to ensure the residents get the care THEY want.