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Some Speech & Language Therapy

November 8, 2016

I don’t know what is was about yesterday. Perhaps someone slipped a Micky Finn in my grapefruit juice. I became quite obsessed with some words that popped up repeatedly on social media. See if you spot the pattern.

Hubs are making a comeback. It’s been a bit quiet on the Hubs front the past eighteen months but yesterday I saw three separate articles claiming that Hubs are where it’s at, man. Round my way, Hubs are congregation points. A place to assemble at before accessing non building based community activities. Translated from social care speak, that means, meeting up at the old post office before going out in the rain to window shop at Argos. It’s popular because it ties in with pooled budget’s and pooled support. Several people can be wheeled around the mall with minimum staff needed. Hubs also implies activity, dare I say it, dynamic activity. It’s a lie.

Placement has long been a social care word. I live in my home: Steven lives in his current placement. It’s both the same place but learning disabled people don’t live in their homes. It’s another word that suggests, if not activity, then at least, input. If you are in a placement, someone placed you there. Yesterday, Mencap tweeted a lot about work placements. They’re pushing for LD people to be employed, which is a bit awkward as only 1% of their 8600 strong workforce has a learning disability. Didn’t anyone at their campaign planning meeting say, “We could be on a bit of a sticky wicket here chaps”. I don’t know what a work placement is. Is it a job? If it is, why not call it work and drop the placement. All those commuters on the 7.15 to Kings Cross aren’t travelling to their work placements. They’re off to work. I’m pretty sure a work placement is unpaid but work placement hides that better than say, voluntary work. Or, calling a spade a spade, unpaid work. It’s a lie.

Passionate people are everywhere on my timeline. Nowadays we have to be seen to be passionate about something. ” Passionate about the one page profile”. I’m always slightly disappointed when I meet one of these passionate people in the flesh. I anticipate a throbbing mass of enthusiasm. They’re usually extremely measured and professionally cold. It doesn’t matter what the person claims to be passionate about. That’s irrelevant. It’s the state of being passionate where the kudos lies. It’s keeping up with the passionate Jones’s that score you the brownie points. It’s a lie. You don’t declare passion, you just are. It’s ironic because this week the Daily Mail used an 11 year old story of Gary Linekar being passionate with his newly Wed wife on an aeroplane as an attack. That sort of being passionate is seen as not nice but a claim of being passionate about person centred Hubs can be worn as a badge of honour, a calling card of my moral standing.

Finally, I saw an advert for a new care home. Smallish, with 12 beds. The word of the day was “Authentic”. Residents can ” live an authentic life” at the Rosebud. Being authentic isn’t new but it’s very popular. I watched the X Factor the other week. One of the contestants is from Finland and she has a penchant for belting out Celine Dion type numbers. After several brushes with the sing off, she appeared in a bizarre outfit singing Bjork’s It’s Oh So Quiet. Cowell said, “You’ve finally found yourself as an artist. It was your most authentic performance yet”. It was a masterclass in inauthenticity. But now it’s coming into social care. Residents (in their placements) can’t live a life, they have to live an authentic life. The spin merchants overlooking that for most of us, an authentic life wouldn’t bring us within a million miles of a place like Rosebud. I’m waiting for the day when people start claiming to be ” authentically passionate”. Or “passionately authentic”.

Or even, ” I’m passionate about commissioning authentic placements in a Hub”.

It’s coming.


From → Social Care

  1. drsallybaker permalink

    A welcome discussion of the asinine deceitful language used to conceal the horrors in health/social care. I remember well how people in mental health settings became ‘service users’. It was in about 1992/3 – we were all herded into a room because a lady from MIND ‘wanted to talk to us’. Among many other things, she told us that we were ‘not allowed’ to call ourselves patients anymore, we were now called ‘service users’ – and although lot’s of people don’t like that ‘that’s what we’re now called’. And shortly after that we were told that we were going to be ’empowered’. As for the mental health services, things carried on pretty much as they did before the patients became empowered service users – serious complaints were not investigated, patients/service users/people continued to die and the institutional abuses in the service continued unchecked. And MIND didn’t breathe a word about any of it.

  2. I know it’s not funny but sadly so true but thank you for making me laugh this morning!! šŸ˜‚ Maybe it’s a nervous hysterical laugh at the complete stupidity of it all!!

  3. A passionate person I met was Dr Phil Hammond (Don’t trust me, I’m a doctor) from the Patients Association – very funny, very kind, not measured or cold at all. I wonder if he ever reads this or Sara’s blogs.

  4. Pauline Thomas permalink

    The amount of time, money and energy the LD services and organizations use to tell us how wonderful they are would be better spent in actually proving how wonderful they are. In short actions not words

    Hubs were, in the past, cynically talked up and used so that LA’s could close the day centres which sat on large plots of land and were sold off to the highest bidder to swell the council coffers. The managers and staff involved in this deceit should now hang their heads in shame.

    However hubs do have a role to play in certain day service provisions but should not be seen as the only option for people. A mixture of all types of day services should be on offer including the traditional day centre which worked well for some people. I am hoping that the not for profit companies that now run most LA adult services for people with LD will be giving people with LD some quality in their daily lives and not just going with the status quo.

  5. Sally permalink

    Oddly enough, the same language is used for coffee shops.”We here at Bloggs coffee inc are passionate about sourcing the best beans etc etc” . Gives a touch of drama and implied effort, costs nothing and distracts from what is and isn’t being done and provided. I couldn’t give a stuff if a waiter is or isn’t emotionally involved with my coffee-is it there? Is it cold?
    My favourite example came when my son was take off the local activity program for children with special needs. As ever they were hiking the selection criteria ever upwards with the aim of reducing the team caseload to three. Anyway, I complained that he would be left with nowhere to go. The team idea seemed to be that this would inspire him not to be disabled and go hang out in mainstream activities.
    Back came the team leader’s huffy defensive answer starting:” I am passionate about inclusion-”
    Whether or not somebody’s job makes their pulse quicken is irrelevant. What sortof a job is being done?

    • Passionate people are dangerous things – for years, a senior manager in the north Wales NHS, Grace Lewis Parry, ignored serious complaints from me and my lawyers about abuses and neglect in the mental health services. The Health Board in north Wales is now in special measures after yet another scandal in the mental health services. Grace ‘s profile on the Boards website describes her as being ‘passionate’ about improving services. When I reminded her the other day of the intimidation and harassment to which I was subjected when I raised my concerns with the Welsh Government, Grace gave me a blank look and remarked that I was using ‘strong words’. So she’s ‘passionate’ – and is still presiding over a disastrous service under investigation yet again – but patients daring to face her with what is actually going on are using strong words (what does this actually imply? That we’re exaggerating, or swearing or what?)

  6. techiebabe permalink

    Damnit, now I’ve got a Fatboy Slim earworm. “I need to place you…. Place you like I should-d-d-d…”

  7. Frannie permalink

    As ever on the nail.I cannot bear the term placement it speaks realms about the value we put on our loved ones lives

  8. The closure of Day Centres was a policy started by the Labour government at the time. Since the government stated that funding would not be provided for them, the L.A.s were compelled to follow this dictat, or lose funding. So, all three of the major parties, at the time, followed the same “right on” policy to force people with LDs out of the security of a Day Centre into the “comfort and conviviality” of the local park or the local library. Yes, even dear, old, compassionate Cleggy and his “liberal” party, thinking they knew better than the families involved, followed this ill-conceived notion of “social inclusion”.

    I wonder if the “experts” who thought up this misguided policy are the same people who came up with the wonderful idea of “patient confidentiality” for people with mental health issues – a policy that could only come from the imagination of a person with absolutely zero personal experience of mental illness, but with an over-riding, false compulsion that a mental illness condition precludes the sufferer’s family and chief-carer from being closely involved in all aspects of the treatment given.

    Or to put this more simply, “Patient-Confidentiality” should not be blindly adhered to with patients suffering from mental illness. The “main-carer” should be fully appraised of every aspect of the patient’s care and treatment, since they are obviously not in a fit mental state to care properly or to think properly for themselves. If any impartial mental-health “experts” would like to disagree with this, I will be happy to meet with them in a locked room and “impart” some common sense into them which, apparently, would not do some of them any harm.

    • I witnessed at first-hand the closure of a very popular and well used day centre for people with mental health problems in north west Wales in the late 1990s, on the grounds that such provision was ‘old-fashioned’ and that the patients needed to integrate into the ‘community’. (What was less well publicised were allegations that the medical director of the hospital involved had received a merit award in return for cutting mental health services.) The staff in the day centre were the staff who had the best rapport with patients, many of whom were living very impoverished isolated lives in ‘the community’ and who actually got the chance to socialise and receive healthcare advice at the day centre. The ’empowered service users’ (as the patients had now been defined in policy) overwhelmingly supported the ‘old fashioned’ day centre – their wishes were ignored and it was closed. After the closure of the day centre, the empowered service users could be seen drifting around the locality, identifiably disorientated, distressed and dispossessed. It was a disasterous decision and exposed the emptiness of the rhetoric of ’empowerment’ when applied to people with severe and enduring mental health problems – they were simply far too vulnerable to fight the juggernaught of an aggressive senior management team at the Trust involved and the naked institutional corruption that had pervaded the region for years.

  9. Pauline Thomas permalink

    Kevin and Sally I agree with you both.

    The severity of the changes contributed to some people actually becoming more anxious and mentally disturbed.

    People who hated their day centre had the choice to leave and try something else. However the people who liked their day centre had no choice at all. ‘Choices’ were made for them. Parents were completely side lined and called ‘dinosaurs’

    It seemed that parents back then were seen as troublesome no-brainers who did not know what was good for their own loved ones. The history and years spent caring for their loved ones counted for nothing. It was a horrible time to be in conflict with your LA and it’s plans to downsize the services for people with LD.

    The only winners were the social service directors who slashed the adult services and then moved off to other local authorities to cut all over again and then finally open their own companies showing other directors how to cut services.

  10. weary mother permalink


    Parents are still seen as over weaning dinosaurs ? Nothing has even touched this prejudice. ? Having it writ down somewhere in Statute…that families should be ‘involved’ …..means always and only… ‘at our discretion’…and ‘only if we really really have to’

    and …. as useful place to lay blame when the proverbial hits fan… ?

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