Tuesday, 26 March 2013


by Colin Bloom

This morning the BBC are reporting that the NHS are going to insist that newly qualified Nurses will have to first practice as Health Care Assistants (HCAs). Here is the quote:

Nurses will have to spend time as healthcare assistants doing basic tasks such as washing and dressing before completing their degree training, ministers are proposing.


Language is so important, how we use language is usually a good indicator of our feelings toward our subject. Let me put it like this, would you rather have someone feed you, or would you rather be assisted in eating a meal? If you are an older person with poor mobility, would you rather be helped to get changed or do you want someone dressing you? It might have the same outcome, but the attitude is totally different.

It is about dignity, respect and personal assistance. Mechanical terms like 'feeding' 'dressing' 'cleaning' conjure such distant, dis-empowering images. We need a renaissance of caring for, not doing for.

At the Curry Union we enjoy meals with street drinkers, rough sleepers, rent boys, prostitutes and crack addicts; people on the outer fringes of our community  We don't 'feed' 'them' like animals at a zoo; we enjoy a meal with our guests. The language we use is important because it humanises the person we are with, it doesn't break them down to a task.

So, I fully support Jeremy Hunt's plans, they will be good for the NHS. However, I'd like to see the BBC and others choose their words more carefully.

1 comment:

Roger Metcalfe said...

Absolutely agree!
The scandal of the loss of real care in our hospitals and care homes will take a long, long time to resolve. News of a one year initial training course for nurses is a promising step, however the Nation knows full well that the NHS has lost its culture of instinctive nursing care and clinical primacy, at the hands of bureaucratic management and targets, bullying and secrecy.
The NHS has always been an organisation that exists for itself, rather than for the patient; it will once again miss an opportunity to change its culture for the better.
The sad fact is that there are still some examples of outstanding nursing care (The Ulster Hospital is one example I personally experienced, 17 years ago). Even sadder is that the NHS has neither the organisation structure, career advancement system or general culture to promote and operate proper standards of nursing care on a comprehensive basis. Hence Stafford et al.