Nurses told to stop using 'love' and 'dearie'

Nurses should not use the terms 'dearie' or 'love' when referring to older patients, according to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Nurse with patient (Photograph: iStockphoto/Dr. Heinz Linke)

Draft guidelines due to be debated on 3 December suggest 'speaking to older people courteously and respectfully, addressing them as an adult without the use of terms such as "dearie" or "love"'.

The guidelines add that it is important to recognise that regional variations exist where such terms may be part of everyday speech and it may appear unusual if they are omitted.

Nurses are also urged to find out what patients would like to be called and using their preferred name.

Ruth Chuahan, project lead for the care of older people at the NMC, said: ‘Nurses should treat people as individuals and respect their dignity which includes finding out what they would like to be called and then using their preferred name rather than just using terms of endearment.'

Conservative shadow health minister Anne Milton said: ‘This is ridiculous and does not do justice to nurses' professionalism and understanding of patients' needs.

‘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.

‘I think most people will see guidance such as this as the world having gone mad.'

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