Nursing homes should give training in ‘Irish cultural awareness’, says report

Phrases such as ‘bed-blockers’ inflammatory and discriminatory, says DCU study

Staff in nursing homes need to demystify the “taken-for-granted language” of everyday life in a nursing home, in particular the language used to discuss end-of-life care issues,  say the authors of a report from Dublin City University’s school of nursing. Photograph: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Staff in nursing homes need to demystify the “taken-for-granted language” of everyday life in a nursing home, in particular the language used to discuss end-of-life care issues, say the authors of a report from Dublin City University’s school of nursing. Photograph: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Thu, Jun 19, 2014, 01:00

Nursing homes should provide training in “Irish cultural awareness” for all staff regardless of their country of origin, according to a new report on end-of-life care.

Healthcare professionals working with older people should actively remove “negative language” from their lexicon, the report from Dublin City University’s school of nursing says.

“Phrases such as ‘bed-blockers’ are both inflammatory and discriminatory towards older people in a hospital setting.”

Staff also need to demystify the “taken-for-granted language” of everyday life in a nursing home, in particular the language used to discuss end-of-life care issues, authors Dr Mel Duff and Dr Eileen Courtney say, pointing to a disconnect between medical language and lay understanding.

Healthcare professionals need to be sensitive to the range of feelings associated with “surrendering” a loved one to nursing home care and the emotional turmoil many families experience during this transition.

Nursing homes need to take account of family dynamics so that carers are not marginalised in decision-making after a person is admitted, the report says.

“We recommend that matters relating to securing a nursing home place should be discussed with the primary carer even if they are not part of the initial enquiry, this would elevate the notion of a nursing home being foisted upon an individual as a fait accompli.”