How to Respond When a Resident Calls Staff Offensive Words

Hello everyone,

You have probably heard a resident call a direct caregiver or other staff member an offensive word at least once. It could be a racial epithet or sexually inappropriate remark. What is the best way to respond? According to Dr. J Taylor Harden, a registered nurse researcher, teacher, consultant and immediate past Assistant to the Director for Special Populations at the National Institute on Aging, ignoring these offensive words is NOT the answer, even if the resident has dementia.

Instead, Harden recommends stopping all activity and calmly yet firmly telling the resident that the caregiver’s name (or your own name if you are the caregiver) is: (fill in the proper name here).

When we ignore the use of racial slurs and other offensive names by residents, we are passively accepting it and allowing them to believe that we are okay with it, and we are okay with staff being called offensive names. While the use of such words can stem from a variety of reasons—generational norms, anger, or even fear—Harden says that by making it clear to the residents that such words are not acceptable or tolerated, this also sends an important message to staff that you value them and will not allow them to be subjected to such offenses. For caregivers whose role is often demanding, stressful and exhausting, stepping in and showing them that they are valued and supported is crucial.

Finally, if you haven’t registered for the upcoming free webinar on developing person-centered care plans, it’s not too late! Simply click on the link below to register! Feel free to share this link with other staff as there is no limit to number of attendees.

Have a great week!

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