Still drowsy after the effects of a stroke, Linda’s elderly patient at the Nursing Home needed lots of stimulation and encouragement to take more oral fluids, nurses hoping to avoid using a naso-gastric tube. In these situations, a Christian name evokes a more positive response than a formal Mrs.
‘Do you mind if I call your mother Dolly?’ Linda asked the assembled family – one of the other nurses had advised her of the nickname.
They seemed rather luke-warm about it, but Linda figured Dolly’s welfare was more important than any prejudices against use of an alternative name.
The whole shift she kept saying: ‘C’mon, Dolly, just a little more milk. Very good, Dolly, swallow another mouthful.’
By the end of the day Linda felt elated by Dolly’s fluid intake. Only as the nurse was going off duty, did her husband say quietly: ‘Her name’s not Dolly, you know. We call her Chrissie .’