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Nurses to be PC

26th November 2008

Nurses have been issued with new guidelines on how they should address older patients.

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Phrases such as calling older patients "dearie" or "love" are no longer regarded as acceptable under the guidance produced by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Instead, nurses should use a patient’s preferred name and always speak to them with courtesy and respect, though terms of endearment can be used as part of everyday speech.

The NMC document, Guidance for the Care of Older People, is still awaiting approval but generally advises against behaviour that could be perceived as patronising.

It has been drawn up using the views of older people and is part of the government’s move towards greater dignity in care.

An NMC spokeswoman said: "The guidance sets out what older people should expect when receiving care and therefore provides a framework to help nurses and midwives focus on the issues which matter most to them."

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: "For a long time we've been saying that nurses should ask patients how they would like to be addressed."

Age Concern said that how hospital staff spoke to older people was a "small, but important part" of considering their overall needs and wishes.

However, shadow health minister Anne Milton was critical of the guidance and said: "We all want to see the very highest standards of care, with patients treated with respect and dignity, but using terms of endearment does not conflict with this."

 

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