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Carespeak – Morphing Into Suzy Dent

August 7, 2013

I have now compiled the final list of carespeak to go into the book. A very big thank you to everyone who has suggested a contribution of this strange, cloudy language.

I have received some criticism since the BBC blog, usually along the lines of – all professions have their own language – leave them to get on with it. That is fine and I agree with the first bit. However, I can’t think of any other profession where the language is so forced upon the user of the service and to not understand the language leaves the user seriously disadvantaged.

The point of the book is twofold but basically it is an aid to decoding the language. Firstly it will be an attempt to understand what the language means both in its original concept and how it’s being used. But more importantly, it will seek to look behind the carespeak and identify what is really going down.

If that reads as paranoid bonkers, just take a look at these two statements. The first came out yesterday after Worcestershire Council proposed to charge the families of looked after children. Their head of children’s social care, said:

“We believe that a child’s parents should be as fully involved as possible in all aspects of the care and wellbeing of their child and this policy is about supporting that partnership approach”.

Partnership approach!

And our old friend Linda Saunders had this to say about Hillingdon’s plans to close most of its day centres:

“The proposed changes enable service users to have more choice & independence through offering care & support tailored to their needs”

That must be some kind of record for getting as much carespeak as possible into the one sentence.

Anyway, here is the full list of subjects for the book (it’s funny how many of them come up as incorrect spellings when I do a spellcheck):

* Accessing the community
* Assessed/eligible needs
* Advocate
* Autistic Umbrella
* Access to…..
* Best Interests
* Behaviour management plans
* Befriender
* Care
* Choice
* Continuing care assessments
* Commissioned support services
* Circle of support
* Community programme
* Community settings
* Challenging behaviour
* Change champions
* Customer
* Carers assessments
* Community transport
* Deprivation of liberty
* Direct payments
* Empowerment
* Fairer access to care services assessment
* Fairer charging policy
* Family
* Flexibility
* Families driving change
* Home based days
* Hubs
* Independence
* Inappropriate behaviour
* Indicative budgets
* Inclusion
* Keyworker
* Logs
* Mental capacity
* Multi disciplinary meetings
* Normalisation
* Outcomes focused
* Person centred plans
* Personalisation
* People skills
* Placements
* Personal care
* Positive behaviour support
* Personal budgets
* Panel
* Putting People First
* Partnerships
* Risk assessments
* Risk management plans
* Rebound therapy
* Reenablement
* Resource Centre
* Respite allocation
* Risk control
* Resource allocation systems
* Service user
* Self directed support
* Safeguarding
* Service provider
* Stakeholder options
* Service Review
* Specialty
* Serious Untoward incident requiring investigation
* Social capital
* Service brokerage
* Supported living
* The autistic umbrella
* Transition
* Transformation
* Transparency
* Unmet eligible needs
* Valuing People
* Welfare deputyship
* “We’ll have to take this to the Court of Protection”

A good friend of mine recently did a FOI request to her local council asking 14 questions about its adult social care provision. By the time she got to the 14th question, it was perfectly clear what information she was seeking. However, her 14th question prompted this response:

“What do you mean by ‘people’? Are you refering to a particular care group?”

Steven and I both share a bit of a crush on Suzy Dent. I hope she would approve of this book.


From → Social Care

  1. Kate permalink

    Hi Mark,

    Your BBC blog is really powerful – I’d like to promote it and use a quote from it in something I’m writing. Is that ok? Will of course credit you and link to it.

    Totally agree that the problem with this language is a power balance thing – shuts people out and dehumanises.

    Really hope your housing situation gets sorted soon and that both your anxiety levels can start to come down.


    Kate (also a Susie Dent fan!)

    • Hi Kate. Be my guest – it would be great to get it out there to as many people as possible. Mark

  2. Mark and Steven,

    I would have been sorely tempted to respond to the question “What do you mean by ‘people’? Are you refering to a particular care group?” with this.

    peo·ple [pee-puhl] Show IPA noun, plural peo·ples for 4, verb, peo·pled, peo·pling.
    persons indefinitely or collectively; persons in general: to find it easy to talk to people; What will people think?
    persons, whether men, women, or children, considered as numerable individuals forming a group: Twenty people volunteered to help.
    human beings, as distinguished from animals or other beings.
    the entire body of persons who constitute a community, tribe, nation, or other group by virtue of a common culture, history, religion, or the like: the people of Australia; the Jewish people.
    the persons of any particular group, company, or number (sometimes used in combination): the people of a parish; educated people; salespeople.
    the ordinary persons, as distinguished from those who have wealth, rank, influence, etc.: a man of the people.
    the subjects, followers, or subordinates of a ruler, leader, employer, etc.: the king and his people.
    the body of enfranchised citizens of a state: representatives chosen by the people.
    a person’s family or relatives: My grandmother’s people came from Iowa.
    (used in the possessive in Communist or left-wing countries to indicate that an institution operates under the control of or for the benefit of the people, especially under Communist leadership): people’s republic; people’s army.
    animals of a specified kind: the monkey people of the forest.

    Good luck in your quest to make plain ordinary English the norm!


  3. Genuinely wonderful blog. Have you seen this piece that a colleague and I wrote on the power of language…? Might help you with your argument next time? (Not that I reckon you need it!!)

  4. I feel that the word “care” is overused so that it’s lost its meaning e.g. in Care Quality Commission, take into care, social care, Liverpool Care Pathway, care home even “Takecare!” etc

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