“Oh, you're so PC!”
Who among us hasn't cringed at being accused of this. Oh, we're so sensitive, so phony, so allergic to plain talk. Just come off it and get real.
To which one of my favorite ripostes came from actress/advocate Susan Sarandon who, when accused of “political correctness,” responded, “There's no such thing. Either you're correct or you're not.”
Thoughts like these turned over in my mind when a friend recently pointed out a piece in the July/August 2007 issue of AAHSA's excellent publication Future Age. The article listed AAHSA's suggested alternatives for everyday, plainspoken long-term care terms such as “activities,” “admissions,” “beds,” “dining room,” and “gift shop.” At first glance, it was to giggle—a somewhat edited sampling:
“Activities”: (preferred) cultural, recreational, educational, and leisure programs
“Admission”: move in, join the community
“Alzheimer's or dementia unit”: memory support area
“Bed”: apartment home, apartment accommodation
“Dining room”: restaurant, café, bistro
“Gift shop”: boutique, emporium
That last one sticks with me, I have to admit—those alternatives for “gift shop” verge ever so slightly toward preciousness, in my view. Language is a tricky thing, and it's easy to cross such lines. But further reflecting on the others in the list sort of wiped the smile from my face. I could see where this was trending.
Basically what we're seeing is an attempt to redefine the reality of long-term care. It signals a conscious effort to move away from the “cinderblock, steel, and hard tile” of the healthcare facility to the softer, more engaging, and more recognizably homelike world of supportive senior living. It is the move that everyone, including (God knows!) us, is talking about every day these days. It lays out a survival strategy to meet the marketing and care delivery demands of today. It is the language that fleshes out the meaning of those other new words to our field: culture change.
True, thinking about it in this way does sort of spoil the fun. I mean, I enjoy a good laugh as much as the next guy—so what now?
Well, maybe a leisurely browse at my local emporium followed by a quick nip at the corner bistro will help ease the pain. Ciao!
RICHARD L. PECK, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
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