A helpful A to Z of care and care industry terms


Sometimes people need to make adaptations to their home, to make it easier to manage – for instance because they have mobility difficulties. These can be simple, like hand-rails, or more complicated, like changing a bathroom so that someone in a wheelchair can use it.


An advocate is someone who, with your permission, will act independently on your behalf and represent your views and interests to another party, such as a care home, the NHS, the council, or a member of your family.

Assessment/Assessment of Need

Local authority Social Services departments are responsible for assessing an individual’s need for community care services, and arranging or providing services to meet their identified personal care needs.

Assisted Living

A name used by some private sector providers as an alternative to very sheltered housing; also known as Close Care.

Attendance Allowance

Although many people continue to enjoy good health well into old age, some people find that they need help with daily living. Attendance Allowance is a tax-free benefit for people ages 65 or over who need help with personal care because they are physically or mentally disabled.


In the context of means-testing for Local Authority contributions to care costs, most forms of capital and savings are included – building society accounts, national savings accounts, premium bonds, stocks and shares and property.

Care Assistant

A care assistant is someone who is employed to provide personal care by either a home care agency or a care home.

Care Homes and Care Homes with Nursing

These are homes for people who either cannot live safely in their own home or who prefer to have their needs met in a more social environment. There are care homes for older people, people with disabilities, and for people with mental health problems. They are regulated and inspected by the Care Quality Commission to ensure that standards are maintained.

Care Package

This is a name for the service(s) that may be arranged for you following an assessment. The package could be one care service, like help with preparing meals, or a combination of several services.

Care Plan

This is a written statement of the service(s) you will receive following an assessment by Social Services. Details in the care plan include information about who will provide the services, and who to contact if there are any problems.


If you care for someone who is frail, ill or disabled, and you are not paid for this, you are a carer. Usually you will be caring for a relative or friend, and you can be of any age.

Care Quality Commission

All health and adult social care providers are required to register with the Care Quality Commission. In order to be granted registration they need to demonstrate that they can meet or are already meeting stringent registration requirements. To maintain their registration they need to demonstrate an on-going ability to meet these requirements.

Close Care

Close Care houses and apartments enable one to enjoy extended privacy and independence, in the grounds of a neighbouring care home. It includes the provision of fully managed property and grounds maintenance, with the opportunity to have as much or as little domestic, personal care and general support assistance as you wish.


The term ‘commissioning’ means the way that the local authority and health authority plan, organise and buy services to do with care in the community.

Community Care

Community Care means all the services and support for people who have problems caused by getting old, or with mental health, learning disabilities and physical or sensory disabilities.

Continuing Care

This is healthcare that is provided over a long time, or for an unknown period of time. Continuing Care can be provided in hospital, or you can be supported by health services at home or in residential or nursing homes.

Day Care

Day care allows people who live in their own homes to spend time in a care home setting in order to access some of the same services as permanent residents, such as meals, activities, and baths.

Dementia Care

Some residential care homes offer care for those living with dementia. These homes employ staff who have received additional training in dementia care. The layout and decor of these homes will be tailored towards dementia care to enable the residents to have a greater understanding of their environment and to make them feel more at ease.

Department for Work and Pensions (Benefits Agency)

This department used to be known as the Department of Social Security. It provides financial assistance, such as Income Support or Family Credit, if you are in financial need – please see Department for Work and Pensions.

Direct Payments

Cash payments made to people who need care (following a community care assessment) by a local authority to enable them to buy their own care or support services. Direct Payments can be used to buy any community care services, including employment of a personal assistant, short breaks, sign language, counselling, rehabilitation, day centre attendance, equipment and adaptations.

Disabled Facilities Grant

This is a means-tested grant for people with disabilities, to help with the costs of adapting your home so you can continue to live there. It is assessed and administered by the local authority (council). Separate provisions apply in Scotland, where you should contact the social services department of your local council for information.

Disability Living Allowance DLA

This is a tax-free benefit for children and adults who need help with personal care or who have walking difficulties because they are physically or mentally disabled.

Domestic Services

A service such as laundry or light housework, provided for people in their own homes by our domiciliary care staff.

Domiciliary Care

Home Care or Domicilary Care is care provided in an individual’s home, normally of a personal nature such as help with dressing, washing or toileting. It can be arranged by Social Services following an assessment of need, or can be arranged privately by the individual themselves, or someone acting for them.

Extra Care Housing

New forms of sheltered housing and retirement housing have been pioneered in recent years, to cater for people who are less able to do everything for themselves. These are known as extra care, very sheltered or assisted living developments (or schemes).

Home Care 

Often referred to as domiciliary care, can help people with personal care and some of the practical household tasks that can help a person stay at home and be as independent as possible.

Home Care Agency

A home care agency is a company that provides home care. The company could either be a private company or a charity. They can be employed by the council to provide you with home care services or you can contact them directly and arrange your own care and support if you are self funding or using a Direct Payment / Individual Budget to fund the service.

Individual Budget Payments

These are made to people who need care (following a community assessment) by a local authority to enable them to meet their care needs. This assessment is more wide ranging than that for a Direct Payment and will take account of all allowances available to the person. This payment may be used to buy their own care or support services, either through a home care agency or by directly employing a personal assistant similar to a Direct Payment user, but unlike a Direct Payment it may be used more flexibly for example to make household adaptions. The payment may be used creatively as long as it still meets their care needs.

Intermediate Care

Services to support people between hospital care and regular social care at home. Often this support is for people coming home from hospital, or to prevent people going to hospital.

Meal Arrangements

Home care service which can include; meal planning, shopping, food preparation or assistance with eating.

Mental Health

As well as acute and chronic conditions, such as schizophrenia and clinical depression, the term ‘mental health’ also includes dementia, and other mental health problems of older people.

Night Care

Home care service which can include; sleep and wake nights, which can be provided either on a regular or ad hoc basis to provide a break for family members or to cover in emergencies.

Nursing Care

In terms of care home funding, tasks identified by a nursing needs assessment as those that need to carried out or supervised by a qualified nurse – injections, dressings etc. Will be paid for by the NHS.

Nursing Home

These homes are the same as residential homes but they also have registered nurses who can provide care for more complex and technical care needs where an individual requires frequent attention from a registered nurse to manage their care.

National Vocational Qualification, NVQ

Can be in many subjects and up to NVQ Level 5.

Personal Care

Home care service provided to a person who needs extra support with the more intimate tasks such as washing, dressing, continence support, getting out of, and returning to bed.

Personal Assistant

This is the term usually given to someone who is employed directly by the service user to give them personal care and support.

Physical Disability

People with physical disabilities, also known as disabled people or physically disabled people, have a physical impairment which has a substantial and long term effect on their ability to carry our day-to-day activities.

Police Check

A report on any criminal convictions undertaken by the Criminal Records Bureau.

Primary Care Trust

A statutory (legal) body which is responsible for delivering health care to local communities through GPs, community nursing staff and other primary care staff.

Privately Funded

A service user who pays for some or all of their care with their own money.

Publically Funded

A service user whose care is funded by their local authority.


Any person, group of people or organisation supplying a community care service. Providers may be either statutory (set up by government/legislation) or non-statutory people or organisations.


A person or organisation who buys a service from a provider.

Rehabilitation Care

The provision of short stay care within a residential care setting, often with medical treatment given by visiting district nurses or nurses from local hospitals, for the purpose of restoring health and mobility after injury or illness to a state in which the person can be self sufficient at home. This may be following a spell in hospital or following interventions from other health professionals.

Residential Care Home

Residential care homes offer people the opportunity to stay for a short time or on a permanent basis. These homes provide accommodation, meals, personal care such as help with washing and eating, plus domestic services such as a laundry service and general cleaning, bed making etc. Additionally social activities are regularly organised for those residents who wish to partake.

Respite Care

Respite care is the provision of short term temporary relief for those who are caring for family members and may need to have a break from their caring role to enable them to either recuperate or to attend to other duties for a set period of time.

Self-help Group

A group of people with similar needs who get together for support and to campaign for improved services.

Service Provider

Any organisation that provides a service is a service provider. Adult Care and Support and the NHS are service providers. Age Concern, the British Red Cross, and other organisations that give services to people are also service providers.