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#2 Bad Language

Bad language is everywhere. Confusing jargon and strange phrases have come to be expected in board rooms and council offices across the country. A few years ago the Local Government Association had to ban 200 words and phrases to stop themselves from having ‘coterminous stakeholder engagement’ rather than just talking to people. 

It’s not just the council that struggle to find the right words. Last year the Plain English Campaign slated Apple for their nonsense after Jonathan Ive claimed the new iWatch’s “simple leather classic buckle references traditional watch vocabulary”. 

This might seem funny but there actually is a problem here. The more jargon we use, the fewer people can understand us.

At StudioLR we’ve been doing a lot of work in hospitals over the last couple of years and the language used has often bothered us. We’ve seen Outpatients or Day Cases commonly referred to as Ambulatory Care – a term that was completely meaningless to me (except perhaps a mistaken connection to ambulances). And we’re not being over-sensitive – an NHS wayfinding audit found that 30% of people didn’t understand words as common as physiotherapy. Some of the words we don’t understand and some of them are just too similar…

Radiotherapy or Radiology
Paediatrics or Podiatry
Physiology or Physiotherapy
Orthopaedics or Orthodontics
Orthodontics or GUM clinic?!

Obviously health professionals use the long words (and understand them) but do we really need to see them written on signs when we’re already stressed out? They become even less relevant in children’s hospitals. Why can’t we be signposted to “Broken Bones” or “Sore Tummies”? Being in hospital is never easy so we shouldn’t make it even more difficult by communicating in another language.


Dave King

The Next Big Thing

The issue of obesity is big and it’s only getting bigger. 

Some things that alarm me: 

• M&S offers ‘Plus Fit’ clothing in their primary school uniform range. 

• School dinners provided by our local council offer a menu of choices that includes just one ‘healthy option’ for our kids (how many 6-year-olds will choose the vegebake over the pizza with chips?). 

• Bariatric care environments (just Google the images!) and bariatric furniture are a real consideration in the design of new healthcare, leisure and workplace environments. 

• Jamie Oliver warns us that ours will be the first generation to outlive the next because of the soaring diabetes rates and health problems children are faced with.

This is all wrong.

Let’s face it, we need to sit less and stand, and walk, more. We spend a lot of time working and most of that time sitting at a desk. So, at StudioLR we have taken some tiny steps to shift our culture towards a healthier workplace. 

At the start of last year we offered our employees one hour out of their working week to spend doing something healthy. By summer we had two obsessed ‘Tough Mudders’ (the 10-12 mile obstacle race designed to test mental grit and physical strength), one endurance cyclist clocking up 50 mile rides, a 100 x pull-up and press-up challenge, and we noticed the shift from crisps and biscuity snacks to oatcakes and unsalted almonds. And the occasional square of dark chocolate. 

We encourage a step-away-from-your-desk and walk-over-to-talk-to-each-other culture and a we-won’t-laugh-at-you-for-stretching policy. Only two sick days taken last year across the whole team seems remarkable – all in all a happier and healthier workforce. 


Lucy Richards

#1 Turning old cardboard into warm jumpers

About a year ago we started volunteering on the Bethany Care Van, providing hot meals and warm clothing to rough sleepers in Edinburgh. For me personally, it’s been a bit of a revelation – 12 months ago I’d have walked past a homeless person without even considering their story. Now, having shared a handful of lunch breaks with them, I know their faces, their names and enough about them to realise that with a bit of bad luck I could easily be on the other side of the serving hatch.

We’d been asked for warm clothes a few times on the van and found them to be in short supply. So, with the Christmas card season upon us, we hit on an idea. Using old cardboard boxes from the dumping ground behind our bookcase, and spare wrapping paper from our over-zealous Christmas shopping, we created an environmentally-friendly direct mailer that you just couldn’t help but open. Landing on desks on a snowy day in late December, looking like a wrapped up Christmas present and baring the line All Wrapped up for Christmas, our mailer asked for donations of warm clothing to be passed straight on to those sleeping rough in the harshest of weather. 


Within a couple of days we were flooded with warm donations and we knew those hours cutting cardboard had all been worthwhile. We received dozens of jumpers, jackets, hats and blankets. Every single item really did make a huge difference. A warm pair of socks and a waterproof can go a long way towards making the cold nights more bearable and thanks to the generosity of our friends I think we spread a wee bit of warmth this Christmas. 


If you’d like to help out it isn’t too late (it’s still freezing outside and over 350 people sleep rough in Edinburgh). If you have warm clothing to donate please get in touch with any of the team or email


Dave King

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