Columist Veronica Clark: Tyke terms of endearment

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The most ridiculous story in the news last week was the one regarding a Yorkshire nursing home that had been criticised after carers used the words ‘sweetie, love, darling and handsome’ when referring to residents.

Workers had been reprimanded for using affectionate names, which officials from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) labelled ‘patronising and demeaning’ to the dozen adults with learning difficulties who live there.

But staff hit back, saying the residents preferred the informal terms, especially those who had no relatives to visit.

The CQC insisted: ‘The language was meant to be friendly but it could be regarded as demeaning and patronising’.

Staff at Brackenley Residential Care Home in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, vowed to continue, arguing that the names made the residents feel loved, particularly those who had no other family.

A spokeswoman insisted they always discussed the matter with residents, saying they’d never call someone something they didn’t want.

She added: “The CQC has guidelines they want people to follow but at our next inspection we won’t be changing these terms of endearment and we will discuss it with the inspectors and show them this is what our residents want.”

Good for them.

After all, none of the residents complained, or their families, only the pen-pushers objected.

If one of my relatives had been in this home, I think I’d feel a whole lot better knowing the staff had gone the extra mile to make them feel more comfortable.

Haven’t the inspectors got more serious things to worry about?

Surely, their priorities should be whether the residents have enough water, food, and are warm enough during the long, cold winter months.

The word ‘love’ is used extensively throughout Yorkshire. It’s used by shopkeepers and bus drivers - virtual strangers - when communicating with one another. It’s how we are up North - we’re just a friendly bunch of people. Maybe the inspectors don’t understand us.

If the staff at this home, which is run as a non-profit enterprise, had addressed its residents more formally, then they’d probably be criticised for being cold and unwelcoming. They simply can’t win.

If someone called me ‘love’, I wouldn’t find it patronising, would you?

Unlike some places down south we actually speak to strangers. In short, we’re a friendly bunch of folk.

But soon, it seems, we won’t be able to open our mouths and say anything at all for fear of offending someone.