Podcast: Why language matters and Social Care Jargon
Your CPD should be personal to you and your practice. These examples should not be viewed as best practice.
Podcast: Why language matters and Social Care Jargon
Example of CPD recorded by a registered social worker
Title of CPD
Listened to a Podcast called "Why language matters and Social Care Jargon"
Date CPD completed
What was your role in this example?
Strategic Social Worker
What did you do?
Listened to a podcast about language, the use of jargon in social care and ways to prevent this being a barrier.
Thinking about this example, what would you do differently and how did this learning activity impact on your practice?
Based on research done by Think Local Act Personal (TLAP) this podcast discusses the words that parents, carers and advocates of adults who use services hate the most and why. I thought it was interesting that the top peeves were about any words or phrases which make the activities of people who use services seem less ~"normal" than anyone else, such as accessing the community as opposed to going to the pub, contact sessions and socializing with peers as opposed to going out with friends. I had listened to a Research in Practice (RIP) webinar in December 2020, which was talking about sibling contact and some of the findings from that research were very much echoed in the messages from this podcast.
Why do we call it sibling contact as opposed to "seeing your brothers and sister?" I had to reflect on this because I initially felt a sense of protectiveness over the words Social workers use in their everyday language to describe the work we do. Why does it seem less professional to use simpler language ? is this in fact snobbery, professional and academic snobbery? I think it is.
This has led me to reflect on the way I read the work my student does as part of her portfolio. Because she is new to the profession, she hasn't yet learnt all of these words and phrases, so uses another word or phrase that she knows, that she is comfortable with. When looking at this my initial reaction is oh she means this, but didn't know what it was called but actually, if I knew what she meant and I could understand the meaning, isn't this better?
Better for the people reading it and certainly more accessible, it's less open to interpretation when it's very specific. Joe goes to the pub with his friends on Wednesday's is much clearer than the services user accesses community interventions and socialization with peers by being transported to age appropriate community based activities.
What is the benefit to this? I have had to consider if I feel that without a cloak of professional language maybe the profession is under threat, if it's all really simple and easy to understand and there is no need for Social Workers to guide people through the process, are Social workers going to be needed at all?
Do my personal values mean that I now feel that access to Social Work and services becomes simpler and more accessible and this could mean that the overall profession is viewed as less professional, educated and important.
Having considered this, I do think I am guilty of using all of the words and phrases that these people said they hate and I do understand that this can have a negative impact on people and it can cause a barrier to people, it's just not inclusive and it isn't in accordance with my Social Work Values at all.
I have shared this article with the service and have booked a slot in my team meeting to talk about it with the people who I work with. In my team we write lots of things for websites and for brochures and I am very aware that the use of language in all of these things will either encourage people to be involved or push them aware.
No one wishes to look stupid or ignorant and if the language is preventing them from joining then this is harmful and not respectful to them as experts in their own right.
I had written a draft report of a document which talked about what my job was and who uses the department I work in and having listened to this podcast I have scrapped that version and used a thesaurus to try and find the most plain, accessible words to explain what I do. I will evaluate if this was affective by judging how many people read these articles compared to how many people read them before.
When I am doing presentations in future I will think about the words I am using and the way I am describing things and ask myself if I am doing it to appear cleverer or more knowledgeable than I am. I recognise now the importance of making sure people understand you to avoid misunderstandings and failings out.
One of the phrases that was used in the podcast which I will share with everyone I work with, is, In the interest of clarity and humanity, let's be clear about what we mean.
I am going to challenge complicated words and sentences going forward in my practice and will work with my manager to be sure that as a team we are setting a good example.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the social worker. We have not edited the content in this CPD record. It should not be viewed as best practice. Instead, it illustrates one of the activities which you could record as CPD to help you learn, improve and reflect on your practice.