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Improving the language used in Adult Social Care

We've been asked by the NHS and the Department of Health and Social Care to create a 'terminology product' for social care - in effect, a dictionary of the specialist vocabulary used by different professionals and organisations involved in health and social care, with two main aims:


We'd like to find out how this specialist vocabulary fits (or doesn't fit) with the vocabulary you use in your everyday life about your care needs and wishes.


We want to understand whether, when and how the specialist vocabulary of social care creates a language barrier between you and the professionals who support you.

There are a few things this project can't cover:

  • When we talk about language, we're only talking about English - we can't tackle the problems that might occur if, for example, a care worker doesn't speak the same mother tongue as the person they care for.

  • We also can't resolve the problems of e.g. organisational structure, working practice, ableism, discrimination, lack of funding, etc. which are often much bigger issues for people who draw on social care.

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We've started by thinking about...

However, we can and we must address the language issues that can contribute to some of these problems.

What's the problem?
As a result...

People may not get the care they need.


Time and money are wasted on providing the wrong type of care.


People can't return home from hospital quickly.


Service managers can't see where the needs and pressures are and can't plan accordingly.

Language, however, isn't the only problem...

There are plenty of other problem areas, such as:

  • Culture and working practice in different professions.

  • Pressures on the NHS - if you receive social care and are admitted to the hospital, they may not have time to read your care information.

  • An individual and their care worker speaking different mother tongues.

  • Clarifying language isn't the highest priority for social care professionals right now - they're being put through massive changes by central government.

Language may not be the only problem, or even the main problem, but we've got an opportunity to do something about it!

We'd like your help

Get in touch with our team

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