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14th November 2016

5 little things that make a big difference 

Little things can make a difference. I’ve always thought this was right but recently it’s truth has seeped a little deeper.

When I worked as a  nurse in A&E, I knew in amidst of emergency procedures, how I treated the patient and family would be remembered. As a parent standing over my fitting son while the doctors fought to stop an hour long seizure, this simple fact went from theory to reality.

I'm a healthcare professional and the mum of a child with severe and complex disabilities, and I know the little things count. Seemingly insignificant details can change the whole atmosphere or outcome of an appointment when I meet any professional about my son who has severe disabilities.

Here are my 5 little things that make a big difference

1) Talk directly to my son. 

Say hello to him, even though he won’t respond back. Acknowledging him directly means we all know why we’re here.Little things handshake

2) Look me in the eye, shake my hand, smile and introduce yourself with your name (Ok thats four things but they only take a few seconds to do).

I will be delighted to tell you what I want to be called too.

3) Before we part company make sure I know what you are going to do

Then, please do it.

4) Give me a chance to ask you questions

5) Please ‘Don’t call me Mum’. 

Although I am a Mum, I’m not yours. You can refer to me as 'Sam’s Mum' but ideally use whatever name I used to introduce myself at the beginning of the meeting. If you know my name, because we have known each other for ages, then definitely please use it. Using my name and not just a generic 'Mum', makes me feel as though you respect me and see me as a partner in my son’s care.

When the words I am listening to are hard to hear, how the professional makes me feel makes a big difference.

I have a dear old friend with Alzheimer's. Very often she forgets what we have talked about. She forgets the words spoken between us but she rarely forgets how it made her feel. She will relay a time we spent together by the feelings she was left with.

I think the same is true for me, maybe all of us. Even when I don’t remember everything a professional says to me, I remember how I felt. Whether I felt my son was addressed as the central person, whether I was engaged, heard and respected.

Yes, there are a lot of more important things that will be said when we meet, but don't forget that the little things can make a BIG difference.

The parent led ‘Don’t call me Mum’ initiative is highlighting one of those little things. For many parents, being called 'Mum' or 'Dad' by a practitioner or company professional in the middle of a meeting or assessment is irritating. Such a small detail can make a difference to how parents feel valued and respected.

So whether you are a professional, parent or company supporting families like mine with services or equipment, join the campaign on Facebook or Twitter and wear your badge. Let everyone know that you see parents as partners.

#parentsaspartners #dontcallmemum #yournameis?

The 'Don't call me Mum' campaign is proudly supported by Simple Stuff Works.

This blog originally appeared on 


#Don't call me Mum             21st November 2016

Only a few people in this world call me Mum, and to everyone else I ask, please don't call me mum.

I have a few pet hates. They include:

  1. Hardened weetabix that needs a chisel to remove
  2. Finding my laundry mottled with disintegrated tissue
  3. Finding a car parked too close to my wheelchair adapted vehicle so that I can’t get the ramp down

These things aren’t serious but, there is one gripe that has been in my Top-five annoyances for the last few years and I know I am not alone.

A professional who calls me 'mum'.

For example, I'm at a meeting about my son where everyone introduces themselves and shakes hands. We have come together to discuss my son’s wheelchair (for example). There is a company rep, two therapists, a student, me and my son. Myself and the therapists have known each other for a long time. Then fifteen minutes into the appointment one therapist turns to the rep and says,

   “Mum thinks it would be a good idea if we raise his footplates slightly."

After all our little chitchats, emails and the like, the therapist doesn't say my name. Part of me wants to swing round, look at the door and ask.
“You’ve brought your mother to work?”
In reality the most I do is reply,
“Well, therapist, I think this is a good idea because his knees are too low.”

Professionalism has been replaced with paternity.

I know professionals work hard and are trying to do a good job. But at some point, this behaviour became normal. 

As someone who has been on the receiving end many times, all I can say is - it's weird. It just feels wrong. Although this is a minor issue, I think there is a undercurrent related to an imbalance of power.

All the other people in the room have a role and a name but I am simply 'Mum'

I am not a partner in this meeting. I'm not on par with their labels or expertise, yet in reality I have a greater stake in this conversation than any professional.

When emergency staff in hospital, use ‘Mum’ as an easy name, I can understand it. But I would prefer they call me ‘Sam’s Mum’.

I have three kids and only they get to call me mum.

Being a mum is one of my greatest roles and the one I am most proud of, but I’m very specific about who I am a mum to. The rest of you can call me Rachel, Mrs Wright or Ma'am if you prefer.

So, here is my plan. For the next few appointments I’m going to wear my new badge with the 'Don't call me mum' logo!



My husband has a badge that says 'Don't call me Dad' because this a parent thing, not a gender thing. If you are a parent, professional or company who recognise the invaluable role parents make in providing the best services, equipment and care for their children then show your support for the,

Don't call me Mum' initiative

which is exactly the same as,

'Don't call me Dad'


Together we can show that partnership and effective communication brings about the best outcomes for our children. Parents want to partner with the professionals who have both names and titles. They want their role, skills and insights recognised.

Parents have a role, skills and invaluable insight.

Are you a parent who wants to join our initiative?

Then please

  • Share this blog
  • Like Don't call me Mum on Facebook
  • Follow Don't call me Mum on Twitter
  • Add the 'Don't call me Mum' twibbon to your profile picture on Facebook or twitter 
  • Go to the website Don't call me Mum, read more about our initiative and order your campaign pack (including badges, flyers and campaign posters) to share with your local community.

Are you a therapist, professional or company who recognises parents as partners?

If you want to show us your support, buy your support pack and highlight to your colleagues the heart of the 'Don't call me Mum' campaign.

Go to the Don't call me Mum website and get involved.




For more information about the initiative you can contact us via 


Written by parent 

Rachel Wright, blogger at Born at the Right Time and 


Author of the 5* book 'The Skies I'm Under'.

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© Rachel Wright