Welcome to the department of rebrands.

By Dr Joseph Hawkins, Consultant in Palliative Medicine, Ashford and St Peter’s Clinical End of Life Lead, UK. Twitter: @JoeHawk75825077

“We pride ourselves on rebranding here- sewage workers? Perhaps you’d prefer ‘essential underground sanitary removal operators’? Bus drivers? So mundane, so passé, surely you deserve the nomenclature of ‘skilled mass micro-migration managers’. Et voilà, the role of your dreams is only a new term away. With a flick of the lexicon of possibility, a new world of meaning can be revealed, shifting to reveal new summits and possibilities.

So, now that the pitch has been heard- what can we do for you?

Re-brand ‘palliative care’? Change the name, because some users don’t like it. Too real, too deathy?

Ok, it is a tricky one. Have you thought about comfort care? Or supportive care? You have?And it still comes down to palliative being a sticky subject, eventually? I see. If only we could stop being palliative! No, I see that was the wrong joke for the audience. My apologies.

How about ‘symptomatic care’, or ‘restorative’, ‘reformatory’, ‘therapeutic’..pardon? Oh, I see, yes I’ll stop reading from the thesaurus now. So you’re still not convinced that they’ll come to mean the same thing but with the added buzz of conspiracy about why the name needed changing.

The challenge, you see, seems to be that this isn’t bus driving or sewage maintenance, the issue here is LIFE, you see no-one wants to talk about it ending. Especially members of the caring professions, you all seem so fixated on cure that admissions of fallibility seem tied with feelings of guilt. It’s terribly challenging.

Perhaps we could be more radical and rebrand Dying– ‘Life Spectrum Disorder’? Acquired sub-life? How about: Disease Entropic Acquired Telomeric Halting (or DEATH for short)?…. You know, I really thought I’d have you with that one-you medics love an acronym, don’t you?

Did I tell you about the time we re-branded urinary catheters- ‘golden tubes’: they do the work so you don’t have to. Then there was the time we were tasked with colonoscopies-‘windows to the deeper problems’, yes, good times. Not as tricky as this one, though.

No? Well, I can see that this will take some time, ah-ha- I have it: ‘minuscule chronological managers’. Don’t like managers? I see..

May I suggest a change of specialty?”


PS: Note by the author: this is satire- please don’t direct any angry swearwords at me. Because I WILL find an alternative term.



Further reading by this author:
No Longer in Vogue
A project to identify the patients who we know we are missing.
Diagnosing Dying 

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