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People & Homes

April 12, 2016

I’m marketing a new product. It’s tiny. No bigger than a 50p piece. You can keep it in your pocket or clutch bag. With a little bit of customising, you can wear it round your neck like a pendant. It’s called a Social Care Jargon Equaliser. It’s very easy to use. Whenever a professional dismays you with unspeakable jargon, you press the equaliser and the chorus of Charles Penrose’s The Laughing Policeman rings out. It’ll stop the speaker dead in their tracks, enable you to regather your equilibrium and then you can both start speaking in equal tongues.

This morning I was party to another of those frequent twitter conversations about what is the best term to use: Client, service user, customer etc. For a long while now, service user appears to have been the eponym of choice but it’s become a bit of a misnomer. Service user implies that there are services to use. And that hasn’t really been the case for a long time now.

So, how about “People”? Or if you are talking about one person, the person’s name.  We’re all people. We understand that term.

Later, I saw another conversation involving a woman who is trying to get her son out of an ATU. She had brought into the council’s idea of supported living and started using that phrase in correspondence with them. The council wrote back to her, saying that they “don’t have any supported living placements locally but have access to a supported living facility” about 20 miles away.

See what happens. Whether it is called “supported living”, “residential home”, “placement”, “facility” – it all goes the same way. It creates something that is different to the norm and opens the door to a million excuses why it is not possible. Supported living isn’t a facility. You don’t have to travel 20 miles to be supported in your living. You could get a flat or house down the next road and then the support comes to you. The minute something is set up as a supported living facility, you know that you’ll have to fit into it, rather than it be shaped around your needs.

So, let’s do away with all these labels and just say “a home”. Like you and I have. Takes all the mystery away. And removes all the dreadful self importance.

People and homes. Any other language and you give them a quick blast of Charles:


From → Social Care

  1. weary mother permalink

    Where do I send my 50p ? Hope the policeman’s bellows are strong.

    There are soooooooooo many disabling and excluding words in the Social Work lexicon

    You have done brilliant work in exposing their nonsense.

    The main function of this silly mumbo jumbo, all too generously named jargon, is to exclude, confuse, and to make ‘people’ feel less equal. And some are cruel and dangerous.

    The most pernicious terms in current misuse are re-ablement and disablement. Both have been swallowed whole by the Learning Disability / Adult Care Services.

    Both are verbal wheezes that offer ‘people’ nothing but unhappiness and disrespect.

    Both words used in practice, are disabling, dishonest and cynical. Both words have been cynically corrupted to cut cost.

    They point blame and engender unhappiness. The first blames the disabled person for not bothering to continue to be ‘able and for using services they do not need.

    The second allocates blame to disabled person for not trying to be less disabled, and to parents for colluding in this.

    Postal order OK…….?

    • I’m having problems securing copyright but you’re on the mailing list.

      • weary mother permalink

        Just back from a wee mini break by ambulance in middle of night.
        Been in a cardiac ward, I have now met and conversed with every medical professional related to cardiac care. and I understood every word – was no need to get into the long ancient Greek etc etc derived language for all the stuff that lay behind my heart going on holiday.

        Medical language has a purpose and long historical roots and it has some very complex words in it. But the lovely highly skilled people who were treating me and getting me ticking again just talked with me, and used no excluding pompous language stuff. True professionals. Social work could learn a lot from them.

      • So sorry you had such a worrying episode, and hope its settled now.

        Social work has been now, completely subverted to emforcement ie assessments, and court, to herd as many needy- old, vulnerable, disprdered. families that need support, into private profit care.

        The language is deliberate, to obscure, ossify and intimidate to achieve their hidden aims.

        one of our support workers, told me she had written her final year degree assignments, mainly by checking on her word check, that she had included as many as possible, of the current buzz words, , she got a first.

        We are all being reduced to forms, and deskilled deliberately, to make as much profit as possible out of us and the needy.
        glad the NHS is surviving despite the onslaught of asset stripping read NHS For Sale its eye opening.

        hope you get better, all the best


  2. The last Care manager that came to visit me about G’s assessment started to tell me how much he hated the term ‘service user’ and ‘client’…he said “I like to think about the people I work for as individuals”… That’s promising I thought for a moment, until he proceeded to talk about ‘the individuals he works for’, not with and then continually referred to them as “the individuals”. Just another label…they can’t help themselves can they!
    Could rant forever on this language stuff….pisses me off big time!

  3. Sally permalink

    One of the sections in the IQ test-Katrina Percy take note-measures how well you can put a point clearly and succinctly. ” a supported living facility” fails. A what? What is that?
    Peoplel,with learning disabilities will need different levels of assistance to manage independent living. Some people would cope well in small shared housing with workers coming in and would enjoy the friendships and communal living. Others can’t cope with or don’t want shared living and would do much better in their own place with workers coming in.
    So what could the concil say in this case? tThey could be clear about what sort of choices they offer and exactly what each would involve. “Supported living” is meaningless unless backed up by a one sentence description of what that is exactly.
    The laughing policeman needs a volume control. Muted for one to one, full blast for group settings!

  4. Absolutely right!! We should resist all jargon… and ‘supported housing’ seems to have enabled some councils to capture people again. We’ve had them underwriting some housing providers’ voids and then trying to push people into “voids” or even threatening that people will have to move! Unless they are actually landlords they should not have been getting into “supported housing”. People’s home should be theirs and their support separate. The worry is the erosion of people’s tenure over the years – too many now are on shorthold tenancies. However, councils shouldn’t have been allowed to capture people’s houses and treat them as if in a residential home, but we need to help people have the legal arguments to resist this…. and families beware of thinking you’re helping your offspring to more independence and then finding they are just in a different dependency! Make sure they get their own housing and get their support separately.

    • Association of Supported Living, who support 30,000 and have a combined budget of over a billion will be one of the many feeding into the 3500.

      Venture capital is buying up all the smaller providers.

      As they each represent, at least £4,000 per week of public money.
      But what are they being removed to ?

      They, nor their parents, will have any choice, as to where, or, the services they receive, as this will depend on LA provider’s care plan, as they will be processed through the COP and MCA, which will declare them incapable of making any decision .

      Their care, will be ever changing, as they are bought up by ever greedier venture capitalist, into ever larger provision like Cambian, who now own Lifeways where Thomas Rawnsley died
      There appears little regulation over the supported living sector, accountability for services, or choice, and a huge conflict, as the larger providers, which will soon be all there is, employ their own medical teams and hospitals.

      Also as far as I am aware, unlike ATUs, supported living do not need DOLs under MCA.

  5. Pauline Thomas permalink

    My council believes in fostering out adults with learning disabilities. The grand title is ‘Shared Lives’ This I believe is the way in which they hope to solve the chronic lack of accomodation for people who need to move away from their family homes for whatever reason. Does it work though?

    • You have seen what a multibillion pound industry fostering is now from my blog, yet parents get now reduced to 62,10 carers allowance per week for 24/7 care and autistic 103 DLA, far far cheaper.

      So now we have all feeding in no chance then of keeping the family together ??

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