A recent project, ‘Knowing what to say and how to say it’, focused on people’s experiences of talking about health issues, in particular deafness and dementia. The aim of the project was to understand how people felt discussing certain health issues; were they comfortable bringing up the subject(s) or were they more apprehensive.
The project was a collaboration between Our Connected Neighbourhoods (OCN) and Ideas for Ears (IFE); OCN strives to improve experiences for people living with dementia and IFE has the same goal but for people with hearing loss. There are many similarities between deafness and dementia, which made this project ideal for collaboration. Two of the notable similarities that people living with dementia and / or hearing loss often report is increased feelings of isolation and loneliness.
The project identified several notable findings from those who took part in the research. Firstly, it was identified that people were happier talking about concerns relating to hearing rather than memory loss. This highlights that there many people who consider this topic a delicate issue.
Not surprisingly, respondents noted a preference to talk to a professional (ideally a specialist) about any issues they are having, rather than a colleague or service providers. This point raises a very significant issue; as service providers we must be aware that even though we offer support for people, they may not be comfortable in asking for help.
Although there has been a shift by many professional organisations and a greater push in general to use and promote words and phrases that are respectful and appropriate terms are still used by the general public that can unwittingly offend those who they are ‘describing’. The respondents raised that many people will use language that they find inappropriate, which shows there is still a long way to go.
To read the full report, or for more information, please visit Ideas for Ears.