Transcript: Language in social work

An interview with Sara Hitchin, Senior Lecturer at the University of Stirling.

Podcast Episode: Language in social work

Category: Social work (general) 



What follows is a transcription of the audio recording. Due to differences between spoken and written English, the transcript may contain quirks of grammar and syntax.

MD - Michelle Drumm
SH - Sara Hitchin

MD Is use of language something you carefully consider as a social worker? And is language important to social work practice? Sara Hitchin, Senior Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Stirling certainly thinks so and has written about it for Scottish Organisation for Practice Teaching or ScOPT. Michelle from Iriss went along to University of Stirling to have a conversation with her about the importance of language and its relationship to social work values. Article: Language Integrity: Supporting Students to Demonstrate Social Work Values through Word Choice

MD Thanks Sarah for speaking to me today on language in social work. So can you tell me first of all, why talk about language in relation to social work practice?

SH Okay, well thank you for asking me to do this because as you know it is something I’m really interested in, so I’m always happy to talk about it.

MD Great.

SH So in terms of why is language important in social work practice, I think it comes down to fundamentally social work values. So we pride ourselves as a profession of having a very kind of distinct set of social work values, and that very much defines us as a profession in many respects. If you think about social work education is structured, we have this at the framework of social work education, which sets out the learning and development that students need to do around knowledge, skills and values. So the value is a fundamental part of what social work education is about, and that’s reflected in the standards in social work education and in the revised standards that are being implemented this year along with the ethical principles of social work practice. So the value base is really fundamental, and in my view the language that we choose to use when we’re talking about our practice or using the language in our practice is one of the ways that we express our values. I think that the language choices that we make are really important because language is so powerful. The impact of the language choices that we make can be unintended but can actually be very detrimental to people, or can conversely lift people up and boost people and make them feel more positive and have more hope about their circumstances. So I do think it’s important that we think carefully about the impact that our language choices can have on the people we work with, most importantly. In my experience with students I think they often struggle to write about their values in practice or even on occasions to talk about their values in practice, so I think that when we enter into a discussion about language we’re actually entering into a much more involved exploration of social work values in practice. So I think the two are really importantly linked.

MD Okay. Can you tell me a bit more about what these social work values are?

SH Yes, I can. So probably the easiest way to think about social work values right now is we’ve just had a new set of revised standards for social work education, and accompanying the standards are ethical principles for social work practice. So they encapsulate what social work values are about, and they come under different groupings. So those are social justice and equality, respecting diversity, human rights and dignity, self-determination, partnership, participation and co-production, and honesty and integrity.

MD Okay.

SH So in the revised standards there is greater emphasis on considering the impact of societal disadvantage. I think we need to think about our practice in terms of how we work with individuals, but it’s not just about that individual.

MD Okay.

SH People are impacted by the bigger picture within society. So for example, many of the people we’re working with will be subject to the benefits reforms and will be really struggling financially as a consequence of things like delays in benefits payments coming through or losing disability benefits. So many things within the broader structure of society have an impact on the experiences of the people we’re working with, so it’s about our awareness of the impacts of those wider issues I think.

MD Mmmhmm, and you would like language to reflect some of these ethical principles?

SH Yes. Yeah. I think that if we’re talking about simple values such as how do we convey respect to people, so working with people in a respectful way, part of that is how we talk about them and how we talk to them. These are quite sort of simple concepts really, but in practice I think often we don’t think in enough detail about the impact of some of the language choices that we make, and I think if we stop and reflect on the choices, the language choices that we’re making, we can start to unpick some of that and think about, “Well is that actually how to convey a person-centred approach in my practice? Is that how I’m conveying respect?” If that isn’t experienced by people as respectful language, then how does that fit with social work values?

MD Some people might say, “Why all the fuss about language? It’s just pedantry.” What would you say to that?

SH I would say I’m not surprised to hear that! I think sometimes people feel that thinking about language is actually quite a kind of surface issue and is it just all about the political correctness and people being frightened about saying the wrong thing. I understand people’s concerns around getting it wrong and maybe feeling as though it doesn’t actually make a difference, and there are so many things about our practice that have major impacts on the people we work with and maybe people might feel that the language choice is such a small thing in the midst of, for example, the context of austerity and the impact of cuts of services. These are major things and people really want to be able to make a big difference, and often I think we feel that when we have such limited control over access to services for people, you know, we might make an assessment of someone’s circumstances and feel that they really should get help with whatever the issue is, but because they don’t meet a current threshold for that service because the service is having to be rationed as a result of cuts in services and etcetera and budget restrictions, then that feels like a really big issue, but I think that’s often something we have very limited control over. The way we talk to people and the language choices we make is something we have absolute control over. So I would argue that actually it’s something that we can manage for ourselves and when we’re within a context of so many things being outwith our control then why wouldn’t we think carefully about it, because if we stop and think about the impact of unhelpful language choices then we might recognise that this is something we can do ourselves. We don’t need to request money from a tight budget for it.

MD Mmmhmm. Would you say that the use of language impacts on the level of support people receive?

SH I think in terms of how social workers argue on someone’s behalf for access to a service then perhaps the choice of language we use in making a case, advocating on behalf of someone, yes, maybe the language choices then could make a big difference. It’s about how we present that person’s circumstances.

MD Can you tell me what is considered good language in your view?

SH First thing I’d want to say is that I’m not setting myself up as some kind of paragon of linguistic virtue. I’m just as capable of making unhelpful language choices as everybody else, but I think what I would want to suggest is that it’s important that we are thoughtful about the language choices that we make. So in my view good language is language that has been considered, in terms of the perspectives of the people concerned. So if we’re stopping to think about how might someone feel as a consequence of language I’ve used to describe their circumstances. So if we’re considering that and anticipating how people might respond when they read something about them that might feel really painful for them, and then we can stop and think about how we might phrase something differently. For me, that’s what good language is about, just actually being thoughtful about the word choices we use.

MD Mmmhmm. Could you give me an example of that at all?

SH Okay, so an example of avoiding difficult language choices. One example I would give is labelling. So when we work with people who are experiencing, for example, substance misuse difficulties or mental health difficulties, if we label someone according to their difficulty then we run the risk of defining them by that aspect of who they are. So I would argue that the term “alcoholic” is an example of that. Now there is a school of thought where people would want to label themselves as an alcoholic, because that’s the approach they’ve chosen to take, but in general I would say that for practitioners it’s better not to label someone by that term unless the person chooses that for themselves. So for example, if you were describing someone, “John Smith is an alcoholic”, how does that compare with a description of someone as, “John Smith is however old. He’s a father. He used to work in this area of work before having to give up work as a consequence of a problem with drink”, something like that? My argument would be that you’re giving a fuller picture of who John Smith is and not purely defining him by the difficulties currently experienced. We often do this is practice, so there are a number of examples of how people are defined by their difficulty, and my suggestion would be that if we think of everyone as a person first, they are a person who is experiencing whatever difficulty, but they’re a person with interests, responsibilities, family life, job roles, all the different things about who they are as a person, and not defining them purely by their difficulty. So I think we can go some way towards doing that by thinking carefully about how we refer to them. Similarly, I would suggest that it’s better to avoid using terms that lump people together. So for example, referring to “the elderly”. My argument would be that by using that kind of terminology we’re suggesting that everybody over a certain age has the same needs and wants and wishes and we can assume that they’re all the same, and that’s a simplistic kind of interpretation of it but I think that again it’s better to think about the person as a whole person, not just about their age. So I would suggest avoiding that kind of labelling terminology.

MD And I suppose for a wider society it would probably be a good practice as well. I suppose we’re all so used to just grouping and labelling people?

SH Yes. Yeah.

MD It helps us to make sense of our world I suppose, but it also has its limitations.

SH Yes, and in social work it’s how we organise services generally, isn’t it, according to particular groupings? So it’s not surprising that it happens, but I think if we stop and think about the impact of that kind of grouping people in a way that doesn’t recognise their individual characteristics and their individual desires and wishes, then we’re doing a disservice to the people we’re working with.

MD And you’re probably touching on it there, but what are some of the negative effects then of language use, ‘cause I presume it sort of maybe negatively affects the individual?

SH Yeah. Yep. Well I think the labelling one I’ve just given you in example, I think you can imagine how someone might feel, you know, being defined purely by the difficulties that they’re having. If we’re trying to convey a sense of hope for the future then it’s better not to define people by those difficulties and to help them to think about who they are beyond that aspect of their life, and how they’re going to get beyond it and what their aspirations are. I think other examples of the sort of negative impact might be how we can inadvertently convey a judgemental attitude to people through the language choices that we make. So for example, I’ve on a number of occasions read students’ work where they have been writing about an older person needing help, and they’ve used language like, “Mrs Jones admitted that she needed help to get dressed.” So by using that term “admitted” it implies that it’s something to be ashamed of.

MD Hmm.

SH And so I think when that happens students are often reflecting how the person has come across. So the person themselves probably does feel fairly ashamed about having to ask for help. People don’t want to have to ask for help.

MD Embarrassed perhaps as well?

SH Yeah. Yeah. So I think students often pick up on that, but then that filters through to the way they write about it. Again, what I would suggest is that in a situation like that, if a student uses a term that’s more neutral like, “Mrs Jones explained that she needed help”, or, “said she needed help”, then it doesn’t convey that kind of inadvertent judgement about the circumstances. My view would be that it is important we convey to the people we’re working with that they shouldn’t feel ashamed about asking for help. So if we use that kind of language, we’re reinforcing messages about yes there’s something to be ashamed of.

MD Mmmhmm.

SH So another example might be, again this comes often in students’ writing, where for example, “Eileen claimed that she felt tired.” So by using the term “claimed”, that implies that the student didn’t believe Eileen when she said she was tired. Now maybe she didn’t believe Eileen, and there is more to be said about that, but my suggestion would be that in that piece of writing they need to be clear about why they think this wasn’t a true account of what had been happening. So they need to be sort of evidence-informed in the way they’re writing, but otherwise, often they’re not intending to convey that they don’t believe Eileen, but perhaps they’re thinking in terms of, “This is what she told me, so I can’t state it as fact”, but in fact they can put something much more neutral like, “She explained that she felt tired”, or, “said that she felt tired.” It’s about being thoughtful about the potential impacts of the language choices.

MD And I guess there’s a wee bit of personal type in there too, or ability around writing perhaps, that influences language choice? So again, they wouldn’t maybe have been wanting to communicate something, but inadvertently they have. How do you improve that? If somebody is used to using the word “claimed” instead of “said” a lot of the time, because maybe they feel like it’s the right language to use, then maybe that pressure is they’re professionally to use some of the more formal language or professional language?

SH I think that raises a really important issue as well, because what do we mean by professional language?

MD Yeah.

SH And I do see that in students’ writing often, that they feel as though there’s an expectation that they’re writing in a particular style, as you said, and that they’re using perhaps more technical language than they would use in their normal day-to-day speech, and what can sometimes happen is that students start using jargon because it’s part of the social work language that they’ll hear in the teams when they go out on placement. We all use it. All professions have their own jargon, don’t they, but if we think carefully about what happens when we’re using jargon is it automatically excludes people, because unless you’re part of the club you don’t know what that acronym stands for or whatever, and so if we’re thinking about writing for service users, they should be reading the reports that are written about them, should have access to that, so if the language choices that we’re using exclude the people we’re writing about because they don’t understand that piece of jargon or that terminology, then that to me is not good professional writing.

MD And that also excludes maybe newly qualified social workers coming into practice who are not aware, maybe they don’t have this jargon as yet and are sort of trying to find their way?

SH Yeah. I think often what we hear from students is one of the first things that happens when they go out on placement is they might be sitting, I can remember this myself as a student social worker, sitting in a team meeting and thinking, “I do not have a clue what all these people are talking about”, because all the way through the meeting there would be lots of jargon and acronyms and language that those people who are in the club are familiar with. So it’s part of kind of becoming a professional. The students learn a lot of that, but I think along the way they can learn lots of really positive aspects of the language choices that they use by observing how other practitioners do things. They can learn about how to raise really difficult issues with people, how to explore complex issues and how to clarify with people that they have understood what’s going to happen in a situation. So they can pick up lots of really good practice from the social workers around them when they’re on placement but I think often they also pick up some bad practice, which might be about people not stopping and thinking about the language choices that they’re using.

MD I guess they could actually question some of the language, coming in new to a department, that the other members of the team think about their language choices perhaps too? So there’s probably a positive spin as well?

SH I think there can be, and one of the things about having students in teams that’s brilliant for the whole team is that students really do ask questions. They come with enthusiasm. They ask questions about practice, and the impact on the team can be that it makes everyone stop and think about, “Why do we do things that way? Why do we use that terminology?”, and so it’s good in terms of invigorating people’s enthusiasm for their own practice and to stop and think about it a bit more. So there’s so many benefits from having students in a team but I do think that it takes a very confident student to challenge the language that they hear, and often they won’t. If they hear it around them they won’t necessarily question it. So, you know, they often won’t realise that. They won’t perhaps stop and think about it sufficiently to realise that that language choice is perhaps not that helpful. So an example of the language choice that I think happens a lot in practice that I find myself giving feedback to students about and then realising that that’s the language choice that’s being used within the team where they’re on placement, is the use of the term “mum”. So this is a pet hate of mine. I think, as I am a mother myself, and many years ago when my children, who are now adults, both of them at one point had to go to hospital for minor treatments and I remember really kind of shifting uncomfortably in my seat when nursing staff addressed me. Instead of using my name they just called me “mum”.

MD Right, yeah.

SH And my kind of gut response to that was I felt very patronised by it and I felt like, “Well I’m actually not your mum”, and it’s quite different if they’re addressing your child, you know, if they’re referring to you as “mum” when they’re talking to your child it’s a different thing, but I think quite widely when practitioners are talking about discussing cases often they will refer to people by their role, and very often we are working with families and the mother is often the person who has the main care for the children, so we are working with that person in her role as a mum. In a case discussion I think it’s shorthand to refer to people by their role because you’re then not having to remind everybody of everyone’s names, so I absolutely understand why it happens, but I think that when we are writing about or in a formal meeting, you know, when we’re writing about practice, to refer to someone by not using their name is very disrespectful.

MD It comes back to that grouping again.

SH Yeah.

MD Referring to people as a group as opposed to an individual person who’s more than that role.

SH Yes. Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. I came across a thread on Twitter a couple of weeks ago which was really interesting and I shared it with our students, and it was a mother who was writing about she was really frustrated because, and I don’t know if it was a social work situation or a medical situation or what it was, but there’d been a review meeting for her child and she’d got the minutes of the meeting sent out to her afterwards, and she said that at the top of the paper everyone’s name was recorded and their different roles, including hers, but throughout the minute everyone else was referred to by name and she was referred to as “mum” throughout the entire minute of the meeting, and she was describing in the Twitter conversation about how this made her feel, and then lots of other people joined in sharing their own experiences in social work practice and medicine. So I think it is very commonplace, but it’s something that I would advocate for us avoiding. If we want to convey respect for people, at the very least we need to refer to them by their name, and so I absolutely understand that when it’s a case discussion I think it’s bound to happen that you will need to remind people of who all the different people are. Not everyone will remember all the names when there’s lots of family members, so it makes sense to do that, but when it comes to direct work with people or professional report writing in relation to those people, it’s a practice we should avoid. I often find myself giving feedback to students about this when they’re writing about their practice, but what’s really disheartening is when you’ve written some feedback to the student about their contribution, then you read the practice educator’s contribution and they’re using the same kind of terminology. So often they will also be referring to “mum”. It’s embedded into the culture of a team. So if the student’s hearing advice from the university about how to do it, when they go out on placement the most important people around them are the practitioners they’re working with and their practice educator, who will be role models for them, and they immediately want to fit into the way the team works, so will often pick up the kind of language use that happens within the team without necessarily questioning it. So it can be difficult to kind of get students to think about issues like that if within the team the same sort of pattern of language choice is happening, but I would also try and influence the people who are acting as role models to students. I did a conversation piece for SCOPT, the Scottish Organisation for Practice Teaching, and that was aimed at practice educators. I know that that’s been used in some training events for practice educators as well, so to help them to think about language choices, and it’s broader than that. I was a practice educator before I came into working at the university, so if we as practice educators are thinking about how we promote articulation of social work values amongst our students, helping them to think about how they are putting social work values into practice and how they then can talk and write about that, then having conversations, picking up on these kind of ideas as starting points for discussion, then practice educators can take a lead role because it’s not just about assessing students’ value base, it’s about making sure they’ve got opportunities to explore what their values are, where they’ve come from, how their own personal views relate to social work values, do they fit neatly, are there complexities around that that they might explore in supervision. So I think practice educators have got a really important role in promoting that kind of conversation.

MD And do you think currently that not maybe happening enough?

SH I think it does happen but it’s varied. Like all social workers, all students, all tutors, practice educators have a range of styles and approaches in the way they undertake that role. So some people will be more aware of it than others. So I think it does happen but I would like to see it higher on the agenda in terms of conversations, and as I said, I think language is just one part of it. So discussion about language is a way into exploring social work values and what they look like in practice, so I think it might help both students and practice educators to find a way to talk about values, because it does seem that when students write about their practice the values component is often the lesser part of what they cover. They’re really good often at thinking about, “What’s the knowledge that’s informing my practice?” They will write to a certain extent about the skills that they’re using, but the values underpinning their practice, often it’s a much smaller section of any piece of writing.

MD So those ethical principles we talked about a bit earlier on, it’s really important then to open up some conversation and reflection on them ongoing?

SH Yes. I think so, and I think the ethical principles being issued alongside the revised standards, it’s a really good opportunity for us to refocus on the social work values and the ethical principles underpinning our practice. So those of us who’ve been around in social work for a really long time will remember that we used to have a set of competences. Before we had the current standards we had competencies, and alongside those, values requirements, and when the standards came out the values requirements were kind of embedded within the standards was the expectation. They didn’t disappear but they were embedded, but by doing that I think there was less emphasis on helping students to think about the values component of their practice. So I’m welcoming the ethical principles because I think it raises the profile of the values issues again.

MD Is there anything else that practice educators need to do?

SH Well I think practice education is a complex role in itself, so I hesitate to add to their load, but I do think that when we’re assessing students’ progress and we’re considering whether their value base is in line with what we would expect of social workers, then there is a risk, and this isn’t just for practice educators, this is social work education broadly. I think there’s a way of approaching this that assumes that peoples’ value base will be unproblematic unless they express some overtly racist or sexist or homophobic comment, or their practice is clearly disrespectful in some way. If something like that happens it will be picked up on, but those are the unusual circumstances. It’s very unusual for a student to come in and express overtly racist views for example, but is that enough? I would question whether assuming everybody’s value base is fine, unless something like that happens, I’m not sure that’s enough in terms of our assessment of students’ values and their understanding of how they articulate social work values in their practice. So my suggestion would be that for practice educators and tutors, you know, in a university setting as well, to help students to think about their values there are a number of things we can do. So for example, all students when they’re out on placement are expected to produce reflective journals or other pieces of written work on a weekly basis for their supervision discussion with their practice educator. So I would suggest that when in a reflective journal some language emerges that opens the way for a conversation around, “What’s your thinking about that language choice? Have you considered the impact that might have if the person you’ve written about read that about themselves?”, you know, that kind of discussion. So giving students feedback on the way they represent their practice, which gives some insight into how person-centred they are in the way they’re working, how respectful they appear to have been in a situation. Then that opens the way for discussions around values, which the way into that might be about the language choices that were made, and I think within the university, picking up on the language choices that are made and giving students the opportunity to explore, “Well what do you think about the impact of that?”, and, “Are there different ways of doing it?” So opening the conversation there as well seems important.

MD Will there be group supervision where peers actually support and talk to each other about these issues?

SH On placements, you mean?

MD Well I suppose I was thinking more in terms of everyday practice.

SH I think it varies. So when our students go on placement some of them have the opportunity to be part of student groups, which is great when they have the chance to do that, but not all organisations have the resources, the opportunities, to put that in practice, but having a topic for discussion there often is really valuable for student learning. So you might have a topic which is about, “How do we express social work values? What does that look like in our practice?”, and the language discussion might enter into that. So that kind of group discussion would be valuable, and I think in some teams, practitioners will have opportunities to discuss maybe case discussions or topics.

MD Sure. ‘Cause it’d be great if a group of practitioners would listen to this podcast for example, listen to this episode and then have a wee discussion on the back of it.

SH Yeah. Yeah, and then come back and tell us what they think.

MD Yeah.

SH I would love that.

MD Please do that if you’re listening!

SH Yeah. In terms of what else practice educators and others can do, tutors as well, it’s about modelling good practice I think. So I try to be mindful of the language choices that I make. I don’t always get it right. I think if we’re open to people challenging us, that’s important too. So if we’re conveying that we’re not precious about the language choices that we make and we’re happy to discuss it, then we’re much more likely to have a fruitful dialogue about it.

MD Sure.

SH And I guess that applies for practice educators as well. So it can be difficult if a student is saying, “Well my tutor says you shouldn’t be using that terminology.” That can be experienced as really quite undermining and challenging for a practitioner. So I guess part of this is people acknowledging that it is important, and buying into the need to explore the issues and having an openness and readiness to discuss it.

MD The values held by social workers then, do they reflect the language that they use?

SH To some extent but I think generally it’s the other way round. So I would say that the language choices that we make reflect our values, or they can reflect our values. Sometimes it’s not our value base, it’s the habits that we’ve got into, the practises that we’re picking up from the culture of our team. So that’s what I mean about if we don’t stop and reflect on it then we can use language that other people might infer a values-base position from inaccurately. So what I would say to social work students is you want to come across in the way you undertake your practice as a principled ethical practitioner who is aiming to uphold social work values, and one of the ways of doing that in your writing is to make sure that your language suggests that your practice is in tune with those social work values. So thinking about conveying that we have a person-centred approach in our practice can involve simple things like when we’re writing about people, referring to them as “people who did something”, as opposed to “people that did something”. Writers often use terminology that might be used in relation to human beings or might not, and I think if we’re thinking about person-centred writing then we should always try and use terminology that relates to people. So I think there’s a good example of that in terms of describing people as “males” and “females”. So a lot of the time I will read, I think it’s okay as an adjective, but when it’s used as a noun, that it jars for me, and my thinking behind that is “male” and “female” refer to the sex of a species, not necessarily human beings. So it might mean men or women, but it could equally be male or female lab rats. So my thinking is that if we want to convey a person-centred approach then the language choices we should use should most specifically be relevant to human beings.

MD Sure, yeah.

SH And again I think that maybe goes back to the earlier point about people trying to use what they think is professional language. So if it feels more formal to refer to someone as “male” or “female”, then maybe that’s why students tend to do it, or they’ll see it in practice that they come across when they read examples of reports and things, but it’s actually very straightforward just to refer to someone as a “man” or a “woman”, or a “girl” or a “boy” or a “young person”, rather than a “male” or a “female”.

MD Yeah.

SH I guess it does raise the issue of if someone identifies as non-binary or is going through transition in terms of their gender, then it’s perhaps more complicated to think about how to reflect that person’s circumstances, but I think the starting point should always be what does that individual feel comfortable with in terms of the terminology. So we should always be checking with the person we’re referring to about how they feel comfortable being referred to.

MD Yeah.

SH That would be my suggestion.

MD Mmmhmm. So in terms of the health and social care landscape, do you think language will become more important to social work?

SH That’s an interesting question. Well I guess that with integration of health and social care, what we’re experiencing is organisations merging. I guess the risk that people might feel is there is that social work is a much smaller partner within health and social care and might somehow become subsumed into wider health practices and health ways of doing things, and I guess as a profession this underlines how important it is for us to maintain our identity as social workers, and what’s distinct about social work practice, working with people as they interact with their environment and as they experience what’s around them. We’re not just working. We shouldn’t just be thinking about working with an individual in isolation. So if we are trying to really, and I do think it’s important that we try to ensure that student social workers have a good sense of what the social work identity is. If we’re saying that our value base is a really significant part of what social work’s all about, then language being so tied up with our value base, this is a very convoluted response to your question in that I do think language will be important because if we think of language as a reflection of social work values and we want to promote social work values as a very important part of who we are as practitioners, then yeah, we do need to think carefully about language.

MD Mmmhmm. Do you think that maybe health do share the same values as social workers but it’s actually more cultural differences between the two groups?

SH Mmm. That’s a hard one. That’s a really hard one. I think if we had some nurses sitting having this conversation with us just now, they would probably agree with everything that we’re saying.

MD Mmmhmm.

SH May not have thought about it in the same way, I don’t know, but I think often what we tend to do as social work is we will distance ourselves from some of the things that we are aware of in terms of the language that might be used in health, and we’re probably picking the worst possible examples, but the sort of classic example of someone being referred to as “the appendix in bed 6”.

MD Yeah. Sure.

SH Do you know? And I guess that’s about focussing on the body.

MD And condition.

SH And the illness and doing what’s needed to address a health concern in that way.

MD Mmmhmm.

SH It’s very hard for me to know what’s happening in the education of doctors and nurses around this.

MD Sure, yeah.

SH I can’t really comment on that, and maybe there’s scope there for us all to be having these conversations. As I said, the example that I gave from the woman on Twitter, I don’t know whether that was a social work review or a health related review or what it was.

MD Okay.

SH So I think it’s common practice that practitioners in different fields will use that kind of depersonalising terminology, and there is scope for us all to stop and think about it.

MD There’s further conversations I think to be had on the back of this initial conversation today.

SH Absolutely.

MD Sarah, I’d like just to thank you for speaking to me today and giving me your time on this subject, and I hope it’s the beginning of many conversations to come on it.

SH I hope so too. Thanks Michelle.

Transcript Copyright:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License