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Care Home Jargon Buster

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Activities of Daily Living

(ADL or ADL’s)

ADL is a term used in health and social care to measure a person’s ability to carry out every tasks such as washing, dressing, cooking etc.

Adult Social care

(Sometimes called; funding authority, local council, local authority)

Adult Social Care is part of a system of services and support designed to maintain support independence and wellbeing. It is the responsibility of local authorities to explore funding, plan and purchase care and support for those that require it.

Advanced Care Planning


Advanced Care Planning gives people the opportunity to plan for their future care and support needs while they still maintain capacity. Your advanced care plan will contain your future treatment wishes and can be given to anyone involved in your care such as your GP and informal care givers. An advanced care plan is not legally binding.

Advanced decision

An advanced decision, also known as a living will, is legally binding as long as its creation meets certain conditions. It gives the opportunity for a person to refuse certain types of treatment should certain circumstances arise in the future, refusing antibiotics for example.

Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology aids independent living. Some examples include memory prompts such as Alexa, automated pill dispensers, or falls alarms.


A condition or infection which presents with no symptoms.


Advanced Statement

An Advanced Statement is a written document setting out your preferences regarding future care. This could include religious or spiritual practices or where and how you would like to be cared for. An advanced statement is not legally binding.

Approved Mental Health Professionals


AMHP’s are professionals such as social workers or nurses who are approved by the local authority to carry out certain duties under the Mental Capacity Act (MCA). These duties may include detention of individuals under the Mental Capacity Act or acting as a Best Interests Assessor for Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLs).

Assisted Living

Usually, these facilities offer private accommodation, while also providing the support of trained staff 24/7 with tasks such as personal care or taking medication. Assisted Living facilities are regulated by an independent body such as CQC.

Acute (condition)

A condition or illness with severe or sudden onset which resolves within a period of time.

Adults with Incapacity Act (2000) (Scotland)

The Adults with Incapacity Act is an Act of the Scottish Parliament providing a framework for safeguarding the welfare, property and finances of adults who lack capacity.


Advocacy is where another person assists an individual to express their views and wishes. The Advocate may act as a spokesperson ensuring you understand your rights and challenging decisions on your behalf.  This could be a friend or family member, or a professional working through an organisation or charity.


Best Interests

The principle of best interests in the context of adult social care, is to ensure decisions made on behalf of those who lack capacity are made in their best interests. A checklist of considerations is followed by the Best Interests Assessor (BIA).  

Best Interests Assessor


The BIA is the person responsible for carrying out a best interest’s assessment in the context of DoLS (Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards).


Care Quality Commission


CQC are the independent regulator of health and social care in England. Their role is to register care providers, monitor, inspect and rate their services and take action where providers are not meeting regulatory or legislative requirements. They also respond to concerns raised about services.

Care Inspectorate Wales


CIW are the independent regulator of social care and children’s services in Wales. They decide who can provide services and inspect and review services. They take action where providers are not meeting regulatory or legislative requirements. They also respond to concerns raised about services.

Care Inspectorate (CI)

The CI is the scrutiny body looking at quality of care in Scotland. They register providers and inspect services grading them on a scale of 1 to 6. They can take enforcement action where recommendations are not implemented. They also manage complaints and concerns raised about providers.

Care Act 2014

The Care Act 2014 is the law which governs adult social care in England.

Care Package

Following assessment by adult social care, a care package is produced based on a person’s needs. This may include a combination of services, for example, help with personal care along with assistive technology such as an emergency alarm.

Carers Allowance

Carers Allowance is a state benefit which can be claimed by those caring for someone for over 35 hours per week who meet other eligibility criteria.  

Carers Assessment

Adult Social Services can provide a carers assessment aimed at providing resources to support carers in their role. An example includes providing periods of respite care to enable the carer to have a break.  

Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG’s)

Clinical Commissioning Groups replaced Primary Care Trusts in 2013 and are responsible for deciding what health services are needed within a community or population and ensuring these services are provided.

Community Mental Health Team (CMHT)

The CMHT provide care management and support to those requiring specialist mental health assistance. The CMHT for older people is usually available to those over the age of 65. The CMHT is multidisciplinary service providing access to a range of skilled staff including psychiatrists, approved mental health practitioners (see AMHP’s) and support workers.

Continuing Health Care (NHS) - (CHC)

Social Care which is funded solely by the NHS.

Court of Protection

The Court of Protection are responsible for matters relating to finance and welfare in those that lack mental capacity.

Consent (Valid)

Consent refers to an individual agreeing for something to happen or agreeing to do something. Consent must be valid i.e., given voluntarily by an individual who has been appropriately informed without undue influence.

Chronic (condition)

A condition or illness without cure which may develop slowly and worsen over time.

Clinical Governance

Clinical Governance is a process designed to improve quality within healthcare environments. It may include auditing of services, providing education for staff or the investigation of incidents.

Client Contribution

A client contribution is the amount of money you will be asked to contribute towards the cost of your care following a financial assessment.


Day Services (Day care; Day Centre)

Day services may be provided by local authorities, the NHS, Charites, or private organisations. They may provide activities, entertainment or the opportunity to dine with others. They usually provide support for groups with specific conditions for example dementia or those with physical disabilities. They may also provide opportunities for personal care such as a showering facility, hairdressing or foot care.

Deputy (legal context)

A Deputy may be appointed where a person who lacks mental capacity is unable to make certain decisions for themselves. A deputy can manage property and financial affairs, personal welfare or both. It is the responsibility of The Court of Protection to perform checks prior to appointing a deputy.


Direct Payments

Direct Payments are made by social services where an individual needing care and support services wishes to choose and purchase services for themselves.

Dual Diagnosis

Dual diagnoses is a term used for those with mental health and substance misuse problems.


Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLs)

DoLS is designed to protect the rights of those that cannot leave a care or hospital setting freely but lack capacity to consent to this arrangement, if they have dementia for example. A person maybe under high levels of monitoring or other restrictive practices such as keypad secured exit doors or falls sensor equipment. Under these circumstances they are likely being deprived of their liberty, all be it for their best interests for reasons of safety. Under DoLS, arrangements are checked to ensure the restrictions are in the persons best interests.

Domiciliary Care (Home Care)

Domiciliary care, or home care, usually refers to help at home from a paid carer who may provide assistance with personal care, shopping, cleaning etc.


Eligibility (Adult Social Care)

When determining eligibility for support services and funding the local authority must consider criteria which qualifies an individual to receive it. This is known as the eligibility criteria which is defined by the Care Act (2014).


In health care, Enablement refers to provision of care which aims at improving or regaining independence. This may involve providing a schedule of support which gradually decreases over time.

Episode of Care

A period of care provision over a specific time period for example a period of respite care.

Evidenced Based Practice (EBP)

EBP are healthcare decisions based on the best available evidence which incorporate patient choice and professional expertise.

Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA)


EPA’s were replaced by Lasting Power of Attorney (see LPA) in October 2007, although those signed before this date should still be legal. It allows you to appoint someone to make decisions about your property and financial affairs on your behalf should you lack capacity to do so.

End of life care

End of life care refers to support for individuals in their last months or years of life.


Fluctuating (condition)

A fluctuating condition usually refers to a chronic condition (a condition without cure) which features a variation in pattern requiring more support when symptoms are at their worst and less when symptoms improve.

Financial Assessment (context of paying for care)

The financial assessment is conducted by Adult Social Care and will ‘means test’ how much the council will contribute towards the cost of an individual’s care.




Holistic Care

A holistic approach looks at a person’s whole life situation including their social circumstances rather than just focusing on the physical body.


Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA)

An IMCA may be instructed to represent people who lack capacity to make decisions such as where they live or medical treatment. An IMCA is usually required in cases where there is no appropriate family member or friend independent of health and social care services to support them.

Integrated Care

Care is integrated when it is provided by a range of services who combine to provide all of the support an individual may need. It aims to remove divisions between providers such as health and social care, coordinating services to better serve the individual.



Key Worker

A Key Worker is usually appointed as a first point of contact for individuals or their carers. The Key worker will often communicate with other professionals involved in an individual’s care helping to coordinate integrated care provision.  (see integrated care).


Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS)

Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS) is an amendment to the Mental Capacity Act (2019) and is expected to replace Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) by April 2022. LPS has been designed to overhaul the DoLS system, streamlining the process. (see DoLS)

Living Will

See Advanced Decision

Least Restrictive

In the context of the Mental Capacity Act (2005), the least restrictive option when making decisions for those that lack mental capacity, is to choose the option which restricts their rights and freedoms as little as possible.


Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)

An LPA allows you to appoint someone to make decisions about your property and financial affairs and/or your health and care on your behalf should you lack capacity to do so.


Mental Capacity

Having mental capacity means being able to understand, remember, weigh up, and communicate your own decisions.

Mental Capacity Assessment

Where a person’s capacity to make a decision is in question, for example they have a condition such as dementia, a mental capacity assessment will be carried out. The assessment is designed to protect and empower people to make their own decisions or ensure decisions made on their behalf are in their best interests.

Mental Capacity Act (2005) - (MCA)

The MCA is a legal framework which makes provision for people who lack capacity. The MCA applies to England and Wales.

Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

Refers to a range of symptoms which may affect daily functioning for example memory problems.

Multidisciplinary Team’s (MDT’s)

A collection of individuals with different skills and expertise working together to support people and help them to remain independent. For example, a community mental health nurse coordinating the care of an individual may request the assistance of an Occupational Therapist.

Means Tested

In the context of Adult Social Care, means testing will determine an individual’s income and capital against how much financial support they will receive.

Mental Capacity Act (Northern Ireland) 2016

The Act which makes provision for adults that lack capacity within Northern Ireland.


Near Miss

An accident or event that does not cause harm but had the potential to lead to injury or damage.

Nearest Relative

Nearest relative is a legal term defined by the Mental Health Act (1983) which gives a family member certain rights and responsibilities when an individual is detained under the Mental Health Act, a community treatment order, or a guardianship. This is not the same as a ‘next of kin’ who do not have any rights under the Mental Health Act.

Needs Assessment

In the context of Adult Social Care, a needs assessment is performed by the local council to determine what care and support an individual may benefit from.

Nominated Individual

In health and social care, a nominated individual refers to a person with key responsibilities to the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The nominated individual is employed by a regulated organisation, such as a care home, to supervise and manage the service being provided. CQC will confirm the suitability of the nominated individual. (see CQC)

Next of Kin

Next of kin is a term used to identify an individual’s closest living relative. For adults, there is no legal definition for whom can be your next of kin in UK law.

Nursing Home

Nursing homes provide general care and support such as personal care, alongside nursing care for those requiring more complex medical support.


Occupational Therapist (OT)

An Occupational Therapist in the context of older person care, will look at areas of functionality such as mobility, showering, and eating. They will then make support recommendations such as mobility equipment or other assistive technology.


Primary Care Trusts

Primary Care Trusts were replaced by Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in 2013.

Palliative Care

End of life care includes palliative care and aims to manage distressing symptoms such as pain. Palliative care should incorporate a holistic approach, which also considers the needs of family and carers.

Personal Care

Personal care refers to any daily task of a personal nature such as washing, dressing or applying creams and lotions.

Person-centred Care

Person-centred care aims to place the needs of the individual at the centre of care planning, ensuring a tailored approach which acknowledges that everyone is different.

Positive Risk

Positive risk involves weighing up the benefits and harms of one action over another and aims to consider aspects such as the well-being and self-identity of an individual. Freedom and choice for the individual is at its heart.

Primary Care

Primary care refers to day to day, or first point of contact health care such as a GP, pharmacist, dental, or eye health service.

Personal Assistant (Adult Social Care)

A personal assistant is usually employed by an individual receiving direct payments from adult social care. The personal assistant may provide personal care, help with shopping or domestic activities.

Personal Budget (Adult Social Care)

A personal budget is the amount of money the local authority will pay towards your cost of care following financial and needs assessment. This can either be managed by the local authority or paid to you as a direct payment.




See Enablement

The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA)

The RQIA are the independent regulator responsible for monitoring and inspecting health and social care services in Northern Ireland. Services are registered with RQIA who inspect at least 3 yearly. They can take enforcement action where recommendations are not implemented. They also manage complaints and concerns raised about providers.

Respite Care

Respite care refers to a short term ‘break’ for someone caring for an individual. It may include a short stay in a care home, a paid carer ‘sitting’ for a few hours, or day centre options.

Residential Home

A residential care home is a facility without nursing care (nurses). It offers general care and support such as personal care, meal provision, and mobility support.


Safeguarding Adults

Safeguarding is designed to protect people who, because of their need for care and support, are at risk of neglect or abuse. Each local authority is responsible for investigating and taking action where abuse or neglect is suspected.

Sheltered Housing

Sheltered housing provides rented or owned accommodation which may include a warden, emergency alarm system, and communal areas such as gardens and lounges. Sheltered Housing facilities are not regulated by an independent body such as CQC.


Self-funded means paying for your own care.

Sensory impairment

Sensory impairment refers to a deficiency to one of your senses; sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste, or spatial awareness.

Service User

The term ‘service user’ is applied by a ‘service’ such as Adult Social Care, to describe anyone who ‘uses’ that service.

Single Point of Access (SPA)

A SPA service coordinates referrals, usually from professionals, within one single access point which can then be prioritised, triaged, and directed to the appropriate team.



A telecare system is a type of alarm or security system which offers remote assistance to a vulnerable person at home. It may trigger an alarm if a person falls for example.

Third Party Top-Up

If the cost of a chosen care home exceeds the amount the local authority has agreed to pay, a top up fee can be paid by another person such as a family member.



Vulnerable Adult

A Vulnerable Adult is defined as a person over the age of 18 who may require support services due to a disability, age or illness.


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