Language Matters

Language Matters

Speaker 1 (00:00):
Hello everyone. My name is Leslie Fuller, and this is Inspired Senior Care. Today, we are going to talk about language, about the words that we use.  Why do we talk about that? Because they have a huge impact on those who are listening to us and an impact on ourselves as well. The language that we use really lays the groundwork for how we perceive what’s going on around us. For example, in the field of senior living the word facility is used.  Let’s think for a minute, what does the word facility really mean? In the general public, a facility is maybe a manufacturing plant or it’s an institution or it’s a prison. So why on earth do we call where seniors are going to live a facility? It’s really a word of days gone by. I personally would rather live in a neighborhood. I’d rather live in a community.

Speaker 1 (02:03):
So when we use just even that very first word, we really set the tone for how we’re approaching the topic. A person who is living in a community is not a patient. They live there. They are a resident, I’m a resident in my neighborhood and they’re a resident in their community. There are so many words that we really need to pay attentive to. In the Inspired Senior Care training program, we have a poster which lays out about 30 of these words that we need to rethink how it affects us. As an example, I want to share with you a part of my training program. I have an in-service lesson to get people to become aware of how their words make a difference. And I’m just going to give you a snippet. So imagine that you are working in a senior living community and you’re inviting in a new family.

Speaker 1 (02:57):
You’re welcoming them to this new place where their loved one is going to live. And let’s say you don’t realize that words matter. That language matters. And let’s say, you still have a good heart. This is how you welcome them, “Welcome to our facility. We’re so happy to admit your mom as a new patient here. She’s going to be housed in the north wing. It’s a unit with about 20 other delightful dementia people. Our facility is a locked unit, so you can be sure that she won’t be able to escape. So I see in the chart that she has some problems with incontinence. If so, that’s no problem. We do have a toileting schedule. We’ll be sure to keep her supplied in diapers to prevent those accidents. And also, do I see here that she can’t feed herself?

Speaker 1 (03:48):
Well, the girls will be sure to sit with her at the feeder table where staff will feed her. And after her meals, she’ll be allowed to go outside for 15 minutes.”


The person welcoming them is a compassionate, caring individual, but hasn’t been educated or taught that this type of language that looks at that individual as a task, as just a check-the-box kind of event is not appropriate. They haven’t been taught that there’s a better way to approach this. Now listen to how, when the  language is changed, not only what you hear as a listener changes on how you would feel being approached that way, but I guarantee you, the person saying the words will feel much differently about the care that they will be providing. Listen to the difference now, “Welcome to our community. We’re so happy that you and your mom have chosen our community for her to join.

Speaker 1 (04:49):
We have her apartment ready in the gardens, where she’s going to be joining 20 wonderful new neighbors. Our community is designed to be a safe and secure environment, giving both of you peace of mind that she can feel at ease and safe in her new home. I believe that she may have some bathroom needs. We provide a schedule of reminders to assist her and provide her with incontinence products. Do I also understand she might need some support at meals? Well, we will arrange in the dining room to have her set at a table with some care partners who can assist her.  Our goal

for her is to be as independent as possible. And we do provide help once she needs it. After lunch, we do encourage the residents to go outside and sit on the patio and enjoy the sun for awhile.”

Speaker 1 (05:42):
I can tell you, I have done this lesson with many people before, and every time I read the first one, I feel… icky for lack of a better word.  But with the second one, I just feel like I would be there to support someone and that I would make them feel at ease with that kind of language. Keep this in mind, listen to the words that you use. Look at the underlined words above and feel how they make you feel when you read them. Another phrase that gets used is “We allow them…” Isn’t this their home? They are paying very good money to live in this new home. And when we take the attitude of ‘allowing them’, we are creating a control that shouldn’t exist in their own home. 

Please think about the words you use. Listen to the language around you, listen to the language you use and also pay attention to the difference that your words provide for those that you’re communicating with. As well as the impact they have on yourself. 

Take care and we’ll talk to you next month. 

4 Responses

  1. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know a lot
    about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but instead of that, this
    is great blog. An excellent read. I’ll certainly be back.

    1. I write my own articles based on my 15 years of work in the field as well as knowledge obtained through several certification programs and working with other professionals regularly. A culmination of a vast number of sources and experiences.

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