Your views on social care jargon

Does the language used by the social care profession make people's lives sound less "normal"? An article we published this week raised this question, and there was a big response from readers.

Mark Neary, the father of Steven, an autistic adult of 23, gave examples of the phrases used by the social care system, such as "If I sort my CDs into alphabetical order, I'm being a bit anal. If Steven sorts his Mr Bean DVDs into colour order, he is being inappropriately obsessive." Here is a selection of your comments.

Cobbett_Rides_Again thinks such plain speaking is itself often inappropriate. "Every person I've ever heard proudly proclaiming that 'I call a spade a spade' or 'I tell it like it is' has proven to be an insufferable loudmouth... Most people constantly moderate their language and views out of decency and politeness."

AndyBeans says: "I wonder what Mr Neary's reaction would be if social workers noted nothing down and told him his son is 'being anal' or 'being a pig' [for eating two Mars bars in one sitting]?"

Biscuit Boy thinks it is a profession over-reliant on "psycho babble". "People being paid way too much are sticking these terms on autistic people... They hear something they think sounds smart and parrot it."

There are many things about the care system that makes it seem impersonal, says Cleonda. "As one of the most scrutinised systems, it makes sense that they have this type of terminology to demonstrate that they provide a service that is accountable."

Not so, says Plushpuppy. "All the paperwork is simply a form of control from the official side and it also implies that anyone with special needs has to earn or justify what should be an automatic right, i.e. a decent life."

Many readers find such jargon "Orwellian" - alluding to the newspeak of the novel 1984 - and believe the "impenetrable" jargon may hide the reality. "I've lost count of the number of times something has been dressed up as being in my interests when it plainly isn't," says Tim Greening-Jackson. "For example when all the post-offices within walking distance were closed it was 'to improve the service'."

But Crocodile, who alludes to being a social worker, says: "We would much prefer to spend more time with people to help improve their lives. How dare anyone say that we do not care about the people we support. Why else would we do it? We don't make up the jargon, that's someone way above us."

Ouch will return to this subject.

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