The right words are crucial

A recent Healthcare Improvement Scotland blog was titled:

The blog begins: “We know there are huge benefits to patients, the public and health and care services if people are at the heart of the care they receive. To achieve this, one element that is crucial is the importance of finding and using the right words that help build a meaningful connection between people and their care givers.”

I fully agree with this. I have written many times about the use of language in healthcare particularly in relation to dementia and ageing.

I have also written a number of times about the widespread use of mechanical language in healthcare.

Healthcare Improvement Scotland has “spearheaded” the following national improvement campaign:

However well intended this campaign may be, I have been concerned that the older generation themselves have not been included in any significant way in the development of the improvement work including in the choice of the word “frailty”.

In my experience as an NHS doctor for older people I have found it impossible to summarise a complex story, that often takes considerable time for the patient to explain, in a single word. “Frailty” is a word that has absolutely no positive connotations and if our goal is to maintain well-being in our elderly we need to take an approach that considers the assets as well as the challenges that may come with age.

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