A Jargon Busting Dictionary for Social Care by Bridget Caffrey and Siobhan Maclean

Review by David Lane

Kirwin Maclean Associates work in the field of social care training (see www.kirwinmaclean.com), and this book presumably came into being because they realised that there were large numbers of workers who were bemused by the thousands of acronyms and terms for new Government initiatives, let alone the host of disorders, medical conditions etc. from which people with social care needs may suffer.

The Dictionary is therefore written in straightforward English and should be readily accessible to the average social care worker. It starts with twenty pages of common abbreviations, followed by 144 pages of definitions and explanations of words and longer terms, and ends with eight pages on anti-oppressive language. The final section helpfully tells you what you can say as well as what you shouldn’t and why. For the readership who are the Dictionary’s target, it is £10 well spent and should prove really useful.

Drawbacks? We have not read the whole Dictionary, but at first sight they all appear to be relatively minor.

(a) Inevitably, definitions are fairly simple, and at the least it would be useful to have an indication of where to find out more, whether in book form or on the web.

(b) The book covers the whole of the UK, which is good as there is always the risk of a book like this being Anglo-centric, but it does not seem to stretch to Europe or the wider world, and in view of the extent of migration and travel these days, some references could have been helpful (e.g. International Social Services, social education).

(c) The Dictionary covers all client groups, and from our child care viewpoint it therefore contains quite a lot of irrelevant material, but more importantly it misses out on some child care topics (e.g. aftercare, social pedagogy, hearings).

(d) Because the Dictionary focuses on current practice, it does not contain terms in use a few years ago which may appear in students’ reading matter or in clients’ files in the main body of the text (e.g. incest, mental handicap).

(e) Finally, the title came over as a mildly irritating attempt to be trendy, and, as a reviewer’s whinge, it would have been nice not to have to buy the book, but we haven’t held these points against the publishers, as you will have gathered.

Kirwin Maclean Associates invite readers to let them know of words and terms which should be added, and they offer a free jargon-busting service of definitions by email or post. No doubt the Dictionary will be progressively improved over coming editions. Every office should have a copy.

Caffrey, Bridget and Maclean, Siobhan, A Jargon Busting Dictionary for Social Care (2008) Kirwin Maclean Associates, Rugeley

ISBN 978-903575-50-5


1 thought on “A Jargon Busting Dictionary for Social Care by Bridget Caffrey and Siobhan Maclean”

  1. Hi
    Someone told me about this review. Sorry i didn’t know about it – we would be happy to send you a range of our other books – complimentary of course – for review. We have some very childcare specific which i think may be of interest on this site. let me know what you think.

    Siobhan Maclean


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