The jargon and reality of flexible social care

Anyone who works in a care setting will be used to those higher up the pecking order talking in 'jargonese.'

by John*, a care worker

Anyone who works in a care setting will be used to those higher up the pecking order talking in ‘jargonese.’ However a director’s ‘innovative and exciting’ service may feel totally different to those working on the front line. So here’s a guide to what those jargon words may actually mean to front line care workers.

An exciting period of transition: your job may be disappearing

Reviewing terms and conditions: the management are looking to save money by increasing ‘flexibility’ and making the organisation ‘leaner’ and more ‘efficient’ (see below). Often involves a cut in front line workers’ wages.

Realigning terms and conditions: the management have done their review (see above) and now you will have to do more work for less money.

Flexible: You’ll be expected to work any hour of the day and night but you won’t be getting any extra money for working those anti-social hours

Efficiency savings: we’re going to save money by cutting the pay of care workers or by making them work longer hours or by making them work more flexibly (see previous entry) or by sacking some workers and making the ones who are left work even harder or by a combination of all of these things.

A lean service: you’re going to need the body and the stamina of a marathon runner because there won’t be enough staff or allocated hours to do the job properly. Especially applicable to home help services for the elderly.

Competitive rates of pay: you’ll be paid just as poorly for doing the job as other care workers in other organisations but we don’t wan’t to actually spell out the poverty wages in this advert.

Offering competitive rates of pay to attract the best candidates: this only applies to those in senior positions and it doesn’t apply to front line care workers. Attracting and retaining the best candidates to do the job is obviously not that important when the job involves caring for the vulnerable in our society.  

Downbanding: on a recent television programme this was said to be a new thing but anyone who works in social care will have been familiar with this concept. Jobs in social care are continually being ‘rebranded’, terms and conditions are being changed and wages are being cut. This has been going on for at least the last 20 years which has resulted in a relentless downward pressure on wages as well as on terms and conditions.

In due course: If something’s going to happen ‘in due course’ it means it’s either going to happen in the dim and distant future or never.

We’re looking into it: you’ll receive an answer to your question or query ‘in due course'(see above).

Work/life balance: you’ll need to be an expert at juggling both your money and your time if you want to have any kind of life as you’re likely to be working long, anti-social hours for low wages.

*Name changed

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