Why Worry About Words: WORDS MATTER

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“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”

But words DO hurt us when they are demeaning and dehumanizing, separate us from one another, and create an institutional environment.

The language we use in long-term care often includes cold and impersonal words.
Words such as facility, demented, admitting, elopement, and discharge are examples of institutional and clinical language.

Clinical language can unintentionally hurt people and contribute to a sense of ‘us and them.’

Which would you prefer? Being told that you are a “patient” being “fed” in a “facility” or being told that you are a resident enjoying a meal in your home/

We need to think about how our words affect our care.

Words can define a culture. Changing our language is one of the key elements needed to change our culture.

Words are tools we can use to rethink what we’re doing and how we work together. Our new vocabulary must convey dignity and respect if it is to bring lasting Culture Change to our communities.

As we change our language we define a new way of being and believing. We have to choose our words carefully and use them wisely.

What kinds of words do YOU use?

Do your words reflect institutional care or person-centered care?

Adapted from Word of the Week: Building a Culture Change Dictionary by Joan Devine
For further reading, access Karen Schoeneman’s “MAYDAY” article

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