Process 8: Findings: start with Language

Our team agreed that Language was a powerful way to start changing mindsets and influence the personalisation of support for each young person. We have also recognised that changes in language by the middle management have the potential to improve the openness of each corporate parent to be more authentic at work. Let me describe what our three chosen themes mean to us.

Language: refers to using terms, words and behaviours that bring people closer instead of perpetuating an instrumental view of the young person’s life with sector jargon, acronyms, or impersonal labels (service user, for example). This means adapting the language used in and by the Care System to promote a loving and caring communication to replace procedural communication. Using plain/simple language as used outside the Care System is seen as hugely beneficial. Language, here, includes the use of non-verbal language to speak about sensitive topics with a young person.

Mindset: refers to staff feeling supported by their management team. The management trusts its team and gives them permission to take initiative and trust their own instincts. This type of mindset is the opposite of a culture that fears accusations and is scared of taking risks which results in a lack of trust. As we found in the data, mindset refers to staff feeling that they have the autonomy to act and share who they are while following a shared set of values for interacting with young people. This is a mindset that promotes human-to-human interactions (i.e. as equals) between the corporate parent and the young person in/leaving care.

Personalising support for young people: refers to putting the young person’s characteristics at the centre of any engagement or care plan. The focus of this type of support is on developing a sense of identity and discovery in the young person. To build a relationship of proximity the corporate parent can/should bring their personal abilities and motivations. This personalisation also means ensuring a sense of continuity in the young person’s life if there are significant changes in their circumstances. It is also relevant to think outside the care system and create opportunities for connection and involvement between the young person and the wider local community.