Care and Care Home Terms — Explaining the Jargon

Like every sector, health care has its own terminology that can be a bit daunting, especially when you’re trying to overcome a challenging time.

Here are some of the common terms that are likely to pop up when you’re looking at care homes.

Care needs assessments

Once someone moves into a care home, a further care needs assessment will be undertaken by an experienced member of the team to agree the care plan and support needed. In addition to care, this assessment covers areas such as diet; personal preferences; and the social needs of an individual. This is to ensure their stay is as comfortable, safe, happy and fulfilling as possible.

This is a contribution to the cost of your care and is available to anybody 65 and over with physical or mental disabilities who need help with washing, dressing or eating. You are eligible if you pay for your care in a care home.

An evaluation of a potential resident to determine the care needs of that person. They are undertaken by someone experienced from the care home. The assessment is important to ensure the home can provide the support and care that an individual requires.

A care needs assessment must be undertaken if you are seeking funding through social services. There’s no charge for a care needs assessment and you’re entitled to one regardless of your income and savings, and regardless of what your needs are. It is separate to a financial assessment to ascertain the funding of an individual’s care.

This is when someone (usually a healthcare professional) refers a person for consultation, review, or further action eg. GP directing a patient to a medical specialist or care home.

This is the assessment of an individual’s difficulties with swallowing and communication. Following the assessment, the therapist will support the individual by providing swallowing and speech exercises. They may also make dietary and medication suggestions.

Money, finance and legal

When the local authority considers a resident to have sufficient wealth to pay for their care home fees, they must disregard your property in the financial assessment for the first 12 weeks of living at a care home. However, if the property is sold in the 12-week period, the disregard ceases to apply from the date of sale and the proceeds are counted as capital.

This is a contribution to the cost of your care and is available to anybody 65 and over with physical or mental disabilities who need help with washing, dressing or eating. You are eligible if you pay for your care in a care home.

A term used to refer to anything that has financial value. This includes savings and assets, such as a home and pension.

A welfare benefit to help carers who spend at least 35 hours a week caring for an individual with a disability. To be eligible, the person being cared for must be getting benefits because of their disability.

This is the temporary postponement of any payments. If you are unable to honour the payment terms of your contract or any other outstanding fees, we will work with you to arrange the best way of repayment.

An amendment to the Mental Capacity Act 2005. They apply in England and Wales only. These safeguards are requested if restraint and restrictions are to be used in a person’s best interests and will deprive a person of their liberty.

This is a criminal record check undertaken by an employer of someone applying for a role.

A legal process where an individual states in their medical files that they are not to be resuscitated in the event of their heart stopping.

Turning capital that’s tied-up with your property into cash to help pay for care. There’s a choice of a lump sum or a lower value of money as and when you need it. The total of the equity release is repaid once the house is sold or if owned by a couple, when the other partner has passed away.

A financial assessment or means test works out how much you will pay towards your care. It looks at: your income, including your pensions and certain benefits; your capital, including savings and investments; the value of any property, sometimes including your home if you own it.

Funding provided by the NHS in England and Wales to cover the costs of care given by registered nurses in care homes. This support is also available in Northern Ireland via Health and Social Care Trusts and in Scotland through free personal care funded by the Local Authority.

A long term insurance policy where you pay a single lump sum at the start in return for monthly payments for your care fees for the rest of your life.

A legal document that allows someone you trust to act on your behalf and remains effective if you lose capacity. It helps with making decisions about your health, welfare, property, legalities or finances.

Someone who receives assistance with funding from their local authority or NHS/Trust.

When someone is means tested it is to see if their income and capital (their ‘means’) are below the specified criteria to determine how much they contribute towards their care.

Its primary purpose is to empower people to make decisions for themselves wherever possible, and protect people who lack capacity by providing a flexible framework that ensures individuals’ best interests are at the heart of all decisions made on their behalf.

An official body appointed to investigate an individual’s complaint against a company or public authority.

Individuals receiving local authority-arranged care in a care home are eligible for the Personal Expenses Allowance. This welfare benefit is for individuals to keep and spend how they wish to and are not asked to put it towards their care fees.

Someone who pays for the full cost of their stay themselves.

Regulatory bodies

The independent regulator of health and social care in England. For more information visit

The independent regulator of health and social care in Northern Ireland. For more information visit

The independent regulator of health and social care in Scotland. For more information visit their website

The independent regulator of health and social care in Wales. For more information visit their website

Types of care and conditions

The most common type of dementia, which causes individuals to feel confused, experience changes in mood and difficulty with speaking and walking.

A rare form of dementia, which progresses quickly. Common symptoms include confusion, loss of memory, twitching, muscle stiffness and agitation.

Expert care from trained professionals who support residents living with dementia to feel relaxed, secure and happy in their surroundings.

Individuals experience memory loss, disorientation and visual hallucinations. Many people struggle to fall asleep or may fall asleep unexpected during the day. Other symptoms include hand tremors, difficulty walking, fainting and feeling weak.

A condition causing difficulty to swallow food or liquid, which can impact a person’s ability to eat and drink.

Used to describe several types of dementia, which all affect the front and side areas of the brain that control language and behaviour. Often people struggle with speech, remembering meanings of words and causes a loss of motivation and inhibitions.

After a fall, illness or operation, intermediate care gives people time to recover and rebuild their confidence in a safe and comfortable environment with trained teams until they are ready to return home or choose the next steps for their care. Intermediate care supports the local health and social care service in helping avoid unnecessary hospital admissions or prolonged hospital stays.

A diet created to improve the safety of individuals with dysphagia. The diet does not require chewing and the food can be piped, layered or moulded and is without lumps so it can be swallowed more easily.

A service for individuals with mental health conditions who need to re-establish their mental wellbeing and sustain independence.

A group of health care workers who are members of different disciplines each providing specific services to the patient. The activities of the team are brought together using a care plan.

Similar to residential care, but with qualified nurses to provide 24-hour support to people with a medical condition.

Parkinson’s disease is caused by a loss of nerve cells in part of the brain. Some early signs include struggling to remember how to do simple tasks and experiencing confusing or frightening hallucinations. As the disease progresses people may feel depressed, paranoid and struggle to talk. People with advanced Parkinson’s will often develop dementia.


Research suggests reminiscence therapy can improve individuals’ mood, stress levels and cognition. It’s also a great way to support the recollection of long-forgotten stories and experiences.

A type of care to support people who need a little help with day to day living such as washing, dressing, eating and taking their regular medication.

A term used to mean a short or temporary stay. Respite care in a care home is ideal for recovery and rehabilitation; companionship; any changes to usual care arrangements or simply see what living in a care home is like.

To protect someone from harm with an appropriate measure in place.

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