EOCW 2024 – Trauma-Informed Language

As a healthcare organisation, we are increasingly acknowledging the importance of a trauma-informed approach that identifies an individual’s trauma and offers supportive pathways, focusing on empowerment rather than re-traumatisation.

A point worth considering is integrating trauma-informed language into co-reviewed/co-produced efforts, ensuring that our approach is built on empathy and respect. Collaboration where all stakeholders feel valued, understood and empowered, ultimately leads to more inclusive and effective outcomes in healthcare delivery and policy development.

How can we incorporate trauma-informed language into our co-reviewed and co-produced policies?

Spectrum is on a path with this approach, continuously evolving and learning as we go.  We are considering how this approach could be applied to the review of our Safeguarding Policies and more broadly across our organisation.  What we do know is that using trauma-informed language in policy reviews is essential to ensure that policies are not only effective, but also respectful, inclusive and supportive of people who have experienced trauma. It can help create a more empathic and understanding framework that considers the diverse needs and experiences of stakeholders.

You might ask, on a practical level – how do we do this?  We start by ensuring our reviews are collaborative, we engage those with lived and learnt experience and other stakeholders in the reviewing process to gather insights and feedback into language used in policies.

 

Why does trauma-informed language matter?

  • It empowers people, acknowledges their strength and resilience, and validates their experiences.
  • It avoids stigmatising language that can further marginalise or label people based on their trauma or conditions.
  • It means that we foster a deeper understanding and empathy towards those who have experienced trauma, recognising the profound impact it can have on their lives.

Are there any examples of how we can use trauma-informed language?

Instead of labelling or defining people by their trauma or conditions, use person-first language – this approach respects the individual’s identity beyond their diagnosis or experience.

Also, allowing patients to have a say in their care, respecting their preferences, needs and boundaries. For example, rather than telling patients what to do, ask open-ended questions like ‘how can we support you?’ or ‘what would you prefer?’

Why is using trauma-informed language and co-production best practice?

Enhanced Patient Experience: By adopting trauma-informed language and co-reviewing/co-production principles, healthcare providers can create a safer, more supportive environment where patients feel heard, respected, and valued. This, in turn, leads to a more positive and empowering care experience.

Improved outcomes: Engaging patients as partners in their care and using language that respects their autonomy and dignity can lead to improved health outcomes. Patients who feel empowered and involved in their care are more likely to adhere to treatment plans and engage in self-management.

Promotion of Equity and Inclusion: Trauma-informed and co-reviewed/co-produced care practices promote equity by recognising and addressing the unique needs, preferences and experiences of diverse patient populations. They help to dismantle barriers to care and create a more inclusive healthcare environment.

 

Explore the West Yorkshire Trauma Informed Language Guidance PDF to support conversations about language.