Are you sure?

Graham Hopkins scours the job ads to
illustrate the dangers of unclear meanings and missing

Good social care writing is simply this: that
your reader understands what you say, in the way you meant it to be
understood, at the first time of asking. The Write Stuff, as you
know, is dedicated to this noble pursuit. However, sometimes in the
sludge of social care writing there is the occasional beautiful,
but unintentional, nugget.

Scouring job ads (don’t act the
innocent) can provide rich pickings. Just last month social care
consultant Roy Grimwood spotted Barnet’s ad for an “anti-social
behaviour co-ordinator”. As he says, the council may be taking its
slogan (“creating opportunity for all”) too seriously or
misunderstanding the aims of social inclusion. It recalls those
“adult abuse procedures”, which sound like “how to” guides.
Similarly, North Lincolnshire’s claim that “We are operating a
repeat victimisation scheme” must unduly worry

I’d be
a shoe-in for the “healthcare team foot health gain facilitator”
post, but being over six foot probably disqualifies me from
Greenwich’s search for a “small homes manager”. And it is
reassuring to know that London & Quadrant operates “a
non-smoking police”.

Technology may try to dump tpying
eroors into the deleted bins of history. But beware: those
spellchecks bounce. One missed letter gives us “Staff have the
opportunity to meet on an individual bass with their manager”
(Stockport); “wok related issues” and “a good way of encouraging
elf-esteem” (Barking & Dagenham). A missing “call” in Suffolk
leaves: “If you have any queries in relation to this letter please
me on 6446”.

Polytechnic University’s Clare Seymour issues two more spellcheck
warnings: “The blank faces of the staff offered a shared massage”;
and “Social workers should be able to address the court effectively
when meditating in disputes”. An anonymous correspondent tells of a
transcript of a meeting where a young offender, a candidate for IT
(intermediate treatment), became “a candidate for high

Similarly, Hilary Grime, sensory
impairment team, Oxfordshire, noticed that her temp “changed the
anatomical reference” when instead of “arm’s length service” she
typed “arse length service”. A leaflet for people leaving hospital
was called “You and your discharge”.

Carolyn Minkes from Cheshire
tells of a client being “mentally retired”, and of one who thought
her husband was going to hospital to be treated with DDT (she meant
ECT). Still, there’ll be no flies on him. Others include invalidity
benefit being referred to as infertility or infidelity benefit, and
the case note: “Throughout the interview, Raymond sat in the
corner, looking succulent”. They meant “truculent”. Keep them

Signs of the times

We regret the closure of this public toilet.
Please use the street.

Brighton & Hove

Poole Library will be closed for a week to
make access easier for disabled people.

Contributions welcome. Please send them to


“…the identification of the level and
nature of mainstream spend in local areas by local authorities and
other statutory agencies – and the subsequent use of this
information to develop and deliver the services that a community
demands, potentially through the vehicle of locally based
partnership structures and on principles of community engagement,
social inclusion and equality.”

From a Scottish executive consultation paper.
Thanks to Adam Palmer

Please send in examples of jargon,
gobbledygook and management-speak to


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