- Linnea Maki
Don't Call Me Honey
Have you ever been dining out, and have had "that server"...the one who calls you honey/hun? This particular server will usually ask you what you would like to order with "...and for you hun?" or "How's everything tasting hun?" It makes me cringe! I know it's not intended to annoy me (I hope?) but it does. I have a first name and I also have a nick-name. Neither one of them is hun.
My family & friends rarely call me by my first name. My sister gave me a nick-name when I was a baby and I have been known by that name ever since. In all honesty, the only place I am called by my first name is at work. I prefer it that way. If my co-workers called me the name my family members do... people would think I was a five year old.
The subject has come up recently at Park River that caregivers are not to address residents as "honey" or "sweetie." This topic seems to surface every few years in LTC. Some caregivers feel that using these names is a sign of affection for residents who feel like family members to them. Like my family, people tend to come up with nick-names for those who they are closest to. It's easy to do, because our residents mean so much to us.
The problem with "honey, hun, sweetie" is that there is a childlike connotation that goes along with it. It's not meant to be condescending by calling residents by these names, but it is. These are dignified adults you are speaking to, not children. Would you want to visit your father at his nursing home and hear his caregiver call him sweetie? I wouldn't.
Caregivers sometimes forget to think of residents as who they were before they were in LTC. We didn't know them fifty years ago. We only know them as who they are, while they have been in our care. Our residents are Veterans, business owners, parents, teachers, mentors, engineers, athletes, homemakers and volunteers. We are blessed to work for some pretty admirable & inspiring residents!
Would you have called your teacher "honey" when you were in school? So why would it be ok to call that teacher "honey" now? Just because they are under your care in a nursing home, it doesn't take away from who they are. With all the accomplishments our residents have achieved and titles they have earned in their lives, I think we can find something more respectful than honey to call them. I think we all can agree that they have earned it.
Using nick-names is not meant to be condescending. It's coming from a place of love and feeling like our residents are family. But it isn't respectful. Call someone by the name they prefer to be called. If you asked any of our residents what they would like to be called, I doubt any of them would say "call me honey."