Council jargon confuses CSCI mystery shoppers

Councils are using too much jargon when they provide the public with information on care for older people, a Commission for Social Care Inspection survey has revealed.

Across 150 local authorities, CSCI mystery shoppers found that the use of professional shorthand and acronyms among council advisers was widespread.

Although the advisers were knowledgeable and helpful, the mystery shoppers noted that often they did not explain processes clearly enough over the phone, such as assessments, referrals and different eligibility grades.

The survey highlighted that the written material sent out “varied greatly” across the councils with over half of the information packs judged as “poor” or “very poor”. 

Nearly 40% of the packs contained commercial leaflets which risked making them look like junk mail, with information on products such as frozen ready-made meals, noted the survey.

Furthermore, nine out of 10 council advisers talked about funding with the mystery shoppers during phone calls which led many to feel as though they were being encouraged to opt for private sector services.

Two thirds of the panel said the information packs did not explain clearly the process for assessing care needs or outlining older people’s rights or choices. The written material also contained jargon.

Maria Ostoja-Starzewski, project manager for the survey, said that while councils had done well in providing information over the phone, there were big differences in the quality of written information provided.

More information

CSCI mystery shoppers survey

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