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PT and the Greater Good

Common Scents

Published December 27, 2011 4:33 PM by Dean Metz

Today is Boxing Day. That is a bank holiday here in the UK. For those of us in health care, we work 24/7. Many of the women I work with received fragrances for Christmas presents. They all came in showing off their newest aromas. I work on a respiratory team. Somehow I think this isn't a good idea. We've had patients complain about the fragrances being worn affecting their asthma, COPD etc. I have neither affliction, but can actually get to the point of having my eyes water when so many forces are competing for my olfactory nerve's attention.

When I worked in the USA, perfumes, colognes and other toxic adornments were forbidden. There doesn't seem to be that concern here. I wonder why? They are actually much stricter about jewelry and false nails here to prevent infection spread. "Bare below the elbows" is the mantra. So why then is there so little attention to the assault on noses and lungs? It isn't just one team. I went into a care home today that had little bamboo infusers all along the hallway providing further competition for my nose's attention.

I'm not exactly subtle about my thoughts on the matter. I've declined to work with some health care assistants on particularly aromatic days. I've rolled down car windows in the winter to try to eradicate the assault. I get laughed at.

I don't mind a pleasant fragrance in moderation. Personally, I can't wear cologne. My chemistry is such that fragrances sour on me five minutes after application, resulting in a very unpleasant aroma. I don't think that personal fragrance has a place in a health care setting.

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About this Blog


    Dean Metz
    Occupation: Staff Development Specialist
    Setting: New York, NY – Newcastle Upon Tyne, Great Britain
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