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Glossary of terms

Some of the new terms you might come across, explained

Explore Help & Advice Library

Whatever type of care you are looking for, you may come across various new terms. Below are some of the typical ones you might meet.

Assessment of needs

Local authorities are responsible for assessing individuals’ care needs and providing services to meet them. These services can be anything from care in the home to occasional day care or moving to a residential or nursing home. Care assessments – also called needs assessments – are free of charge for those who either need, or appear to need, care or support.

If the assessment determines that the individual does indeed need care, they will then undergo something called a Fairer Charging Assessment to establish how much they should pay for their own care.

Care plans

A care plan is an agreement between an individual and those who are delivering care and support to them and is designed to help clarify what support is needed and how it should be provided. Care plans enable individuals to have a say in how they want to manage their health and personal care and ensures all health professionals and care and support workers are clear on the needs and goals of the individual.

Care Quality Commission (CQC)

When looking into support options you will often find references to the Care Quality Commission (CQC), an independent regulator which monitors the standards of social care services. CQC reviews cover all aspects of care including: treating people with dignity, making sure food and drink meets their needs, providing a clean, safe environment and adequately managing the services. You can find out the latest checks of any care service by visiting the CQC website


Care Inspectorate/SCSWIS

The Care Inspectorate (also known as Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland or the SCSWIS) is the independent regulator for care and children’s services in Scotland. Like the CQC in England, the Care Inspectorate reviews all care providers on a regular basis to and assesses all aspects of care. You can find out the latest quality grades of any care service by visiting the SCSWIS website

Carer’s allowance

A carer’s allowance is a benefit provided by the UK government to help people who look after someone who needs full time care and support. To claim the carer’s Allowance, you need to be aged 16 or over and care for someone at least 35 hours a week. For further information, visit the carer’s Allowance website

Equity release

Equity release is a financial plan, offered by a number of companies, allowing older people to sell off part of their home and turn it into a lump sum of cash. Always take independent financial advice before embarking on any such scheme.

NHS continuing care

NHS continuing care refers to care and support provided by the NHS for people with ongoing healthcare needs. This care is provided by health and social care professionals over a period of time, generally outside of a hospital environment (most often in a care home or in your own home) and is arranged and funded solely by the NHS.

Nursing care

This refers to the type of care given to those who have been assessed as requiring care to be delivered by a qualified nurse. Like residential homes, they will offer support, accommodation and meals, but in addition will have the specialist expertise on hand to provide additional support and care.

Palliative care

Palliative care is an area of care that is focused on relieving and preventing the suffering of patients. This type of care can be suitable for a wide range of individuals, including those undergoing treatment for curable illnesses, those living with chronic medical conditions and those nearing the end of their life.

Personal care

When people talk about personal care, they are talking about care for basic tasks such as washing, feeding and dressing.

Pre-admission consultation

When someone comes looking for care – whether it’s for themselves or a loved one – we firstly invite them to come and have a look around a care home to get a feel for the home and possibly speak to other residents. People are welcome to drop in at any time, but if you want to speak to a care home manager specifically, we can arrange an appointment.

We then arrange a pre-admission consultation which takes place in the person’s home. We review medical notes and speak to the potential resident, family and anyone else involved in care. We find out what people need from a physical and psychological point of view which allows us to decide if our service will be suitable. Once someone joins one of our care homes, we will review the service after six weeks to make sure it is meeting people’s needs.

Residential care homes

You’ll also hear these commonly referred to simply as care homes. They provide accommodation, meals and assistance with personal care for people requiring either short term breaks or long term care. Unlike nursing homes, residential care homes do not always employ nurses or other medical staff qualified to deal with complex medical needs. So if a resident’s needs change and they need medical support, they are likely to need to move to a nursing home.

Respite care

Respite care (also known as short break or short-term care) is designed to provide support and the occasional break for full time carers. This may involve individuals using a day care centre to enable their carers a few hours to themselves, or a move into a residential home for a short period of time while carers are on holiday or in need of a longer break.

There are two types of respite care – planned care in which we carry out a rigorous pre admission process, and crisis care which can happen if a support worker contacts us to say they need a bed at short notice. We still carry out a pre admission process, but this will be quicker to take account of the time constraint.

Twelve week property disregard

When a local authority assesses a person to see whether they require long care and support, they will also do a financial assessment to determine whether the authority should be meeting the cost of this care. Although this assessment covers both savings and property, for the first 12 weeks of care the authority will ignore the value of property to enable individuals to find a way of deriving revenue from their property if funding is required. This might be through sale or renting it out to tenants. This is known as the twelve week property disregard.