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A lexicon of homeless industry jargon: No. 4

May 21 2009
A brief introduction to the sector‘s catechism of cliches Care plan If you live in a hostel you will have a care plan. You may not know you've got one, or have ever seen it, but you've got one. It is essentially a list that will have cost thousands of pounds to develop, and taken hours of consultation and meetings to design. In theory it will be written in collaboration with your key worker and list your goals and the steps needed to achieve them. In reality your key worker will write it, it will list their goals for you (to be good and move into your own flat?) and you will sign it. It is vital that your care plan is regularly updated to reflect your progress and any changes in your aspirations. But don't worry, your key worker will ensure this happens - usually by changing the date on the top of the plan or the order of some of the words. Supervision You will hear hostel workers make frequent reference to supervisions. These may sound mysterious, but are actually just meetings between them and their manager to see how they are getting on. The easiest way to find out when your key workers last supervision was is to check one of your care plans and find the date it was last updated: this will also be the date of their last supervision. Empowered Homeless organisations want nothing more than for you to be empowered i.e. in control of your own destiny and making your own decisions. Unless of course you decide you want to ignore them, sleep on the streets or take to drinking more (see challenging behaviour). Challenging behaviour Challenging behaviour is a term used to cover a wide range of behaviours from physical violence to not liking your food. Any behaviour can become challenging once it creates more work for the staff, makes their time at work less pleasant or prevents the organisation from achieving one of it's strategic aims. "John continues to listen to music on his headphones when we inspect his room, but gives no reason for this challenging behaviour." Service user/Client The current most popular terms for somebody who uses any of the homeless industry's services. In the 20 or 30 years the 'homeless industry' has been around it's gone through about 10 names for the people it works with. The predecessor of service user was client, which quickly fell from favour when it was realised that it was also used by prostitutes. The last thing a homeless organisations would want is to suggest there was a financial consideration to the number of people that come through their doors. That would be ridiculous. Policy Hostels usually love to tell you that don't have many rules. This may well be true, but what they lack in rules, they make up in policies. A policy is supposedly a plan, or course of action, to follow, and there should be one to cover any eventuality that may arise. It is also often an excuse. About 50 per cent of requests made by residents in hostels will be denied with a sentence containing at least one occurrence of 'policy.' If you have some observations on the talk covered here, or have heard some of your own that you want to share, you can email Insider.
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