Today, I travelled to Geelong to
hang out with Kim and have lunch speak at the Barwon Region Diabetes Health Professionals Group about diabetes and language.
I have given lots of talks about the importance of language when speaking to and about people with diabetes. It is such an important issue and I am always pleased when I am asked to present on this topic.
When I was preparing for today’s talk, I looked over all the blog posts I’ve written here (and on other blogs too) about this issue and I realised that there were many. So very many.
There was this post where I asked if people consider diabetes a disability and if the word offends them in any way when referring to diabetes.
And this one where I took a couple of ward nurses to task for daring to use the words non-compliant and diabetic in the same sentence.
Also here is a post about someone calling me a diabetic. They really shouldn’t have.
There was this whole post that focused on the word ‘sufferer’ – still a word that I despise!
I discussed a lot about the importance of language specifically relating to diabetes, but I wanted to explore further today. I talked about the language of health, pointing to how I thought Healthy Weight Week missed the boat with the name of the initiative and also the language of food and of the ‘wellness industry‘.
The group was really engaged – lots of terrific discussions and questions and ideas being thrown around, which I love when I am presenting not only because it means less for me to do, but because I love to hear ideas from others and learn about what works for them. This was a really sensitive group. They were very switched on and understood that not only is language important, but the way they use it needs to be tailored to the person they are working with.
We also talked about language extending to more than just what they say. Their waiting rooms need to reflect the same sensitivity being demonstrated in the consultation room. I recalled the incident of the launch of the Diabetes MILES study where in the waiting room of a diabetes clinic was a horrid poster about foot care showing foot ulcers and amputations.
It was a terrific discussion and I am so grateful whenever I spend time with health professionals who are just so damn considerate and respectful when speaking about diabetes. And I am also grateful that they are seeking the consumer/patient/client/PWD (yes, we discussed that too!) perspective.