Language matters

We know that language matters. Our words are powerful. The way we communicate with and about people reveals and shapes attitudes and behaviours. Some words lift us up and build bridges. And some words build walls and bring us down or exclude us altogether.

As Isaac Samuels describes in his latest blog, the language used in care and support can feel like a foreign language. And the way we communicate about care and support shows and shapes how we practice, and reveals and perpetuates perceptions of social care.

We also know that significant change is needed. That we must do social care differently by putting control into the hands of people and communities. By weaving webs of support and relationships that we can all draw on to live our lives the way we want to, with meaning, purpose, and connection, whatever our age or stage in life.¹ 

At a national level, we need to build public and political support for investment and reform. But we don’t want more of what dominates now. So, at a local level, we need to share power and develop practice to ensure that we can all live gloriously ordinary lives, in the place we call home, with the people and things that we love, in communities where we look out for one another, doing the things that matter to us.²

To help illustrate the vital role of language in bringing about this change and making it real, we’re developing a series of resources. 

We’re updating our popular Care and Support Jargon Buster. The Jargon Buster was created to help make the care and support ‘system’ more understandable and accessible to people who are expected to find their way around it and to make decisions about care and support for themselves or for a relative or friend. 

However, we don’t think it’s enough just to explain a complex system. We want to go beyond providing Plain English definitions of words and phrases. We’ll still do that - because we know it’s a valued resource and language won’t change everywhere overnight. But we’ll also use the Jargon Buster to highlight words that don’t belong in a more personalised, relational approach to care and support, where people are recognised as equal citizens and have choice and control over the support they draw on to live the life they choose to lead. We’ll add prompts against some words or phrases to help you reflect on the meaning of the term, and why it should be used with caution - or preferably not used at all. 

We’ll also create an ‘A-Z of alternative words’. These words describe or feature in the social care future we want to see, and we’ll explain a little more about why they matter. Words like belonging, connection, curiosity, hope, home, relationships, stories, time, and trust. Ordinary, human words. 

And we’ll continue to publish blogs and other resources to help us all shift the narrative. 

We’d love to see anything you’d like to share about the language of care and support, and we welcome any contributions to this growing resource. If you have something you’d like to share, please contact us




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