Why is it so difficult to use Simple Language?

An elderly Aunt of mine is currently living in a private residential home and I recently read the report prepared after an inspection by the Care and Social Services Inspectorate, Wales.

I won’t go into the detail of the report, but one thing that stood out clearly for me was the use of English and maybe there’s something in that that suggests a malaise in terms of dealing with the people who live in these homes.

There’s an entry in the report that says:

“During the inspection, evidence was gathered from a number of sources including discussion with service users and other visitors”.

The term Service Users is used regularly throughout the report and I find this a really strange choice of words as I honestly thought that my Aunt was either a resident, a client or a customer. She most certainly is not a visitor having been there for 2 years now.

And I can’t help think that if the Inspectorate is not prepared to see individuals as residents, clients or customers then their attitudes towards them will not be focused on the individual and that attitude will seep down to the Service Providers.

Seeing the residents as “Service Users” seems to suggest that they place burdensome demands on the Service Providers when in their twilight years they really deserve to be seen as the customers they are, mainly paying large sums of money for their care. These homes are businesses, where customers are residents. Getting the language right could be a core part of getting the service right.


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