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Breaking down the language barriers

Quick guide to the jargon of elderly care

Finding the right help for elderly parents can be a challenge.  Understanding the language of care particularly when you’re in an emergency situation or struggling to cope can make the challenge even harder.  Acronyms, slightly different terminology for what turns out to be the exact same thing… if you need to learn to speak the language then we hope that Age Space can help.  This is our introduction to the language of elderly care, all the important things you might need to know, in plain English.

Care terms

Care needs assessment A care needs assessment is carried out by the Local authority.  They make an assessment of the level of assistance and services a person needs to remain independent at home or move to residential care.  This plan for care is mandatory regardless of finances or eligibility.
Carers assessment A carers assessment is means tested support from local authorities which  can be made available to those providing care to others.   This support aims to provide some relief for carers in term of help around the house, activities for them or even respite care.
Care at home Care at home refers to care and support provided at home on either a full time or part time basis.  Local authority needs assessment provides a template for care.  Eligibility for funding is assessed by local authority.
Care home/Residential home A care home is a registered home providing help with personal care, such as washing, dressing, taking medication and going to the toilet.  They provide a community for elderly people and most organise social activities.
End of life care End of life care is support provided to those in last months or years of their life, allowing patients to live as well as possible and die with dignity.   It can be provided at home, care homes, hospital or hospice.
Financial assessment A financial assessment determines the levels of funding available for care. It is determined by a financial means test.  Contributions to care are available for anyone with capital up to £ 23,750.   Note in Scotland and Northern Ireland, social care is free.
NHS continuing care NHS continuing care provides for personal and healthcare needs where there is ‘primary health need’ and patients have a complex condition with on-going care needs.  A ‘primary health need’ means the main need for care must relate to your health. This care package is provided outside a hospital setting.  It is complex to assess and not everyone with a long term condition or disability is eligible.
NHS healthcare Healthcare is provided free at the point of delivery including hospitals, GPs, district nurses and medication.
Nursing home A nursing home provides the same personal care support as a care home but additionally qualified nurses are on staff at all times.
Palliative care Palliative care is provided to patients who have an incurable illness, by managing pain and other symptoms.  It is an holistic approach providing support to the patient and family.
Respite care Respite care is planned short term or temporary care designed to provide relief to carer.   This maybe a few hours or weeks duration.
Social care Social care is support and help for everyday needs provided by local authorities.  Eligibility for funding is means tested.
Legal Terms
Advance directive An advance directive, also known as a living will is a statement explaining what medical treatment an individual would not want in the future, should they ‘lack capacity’.   For example, a Do Not Resuscitate order.
Court of Protection


If someone is mentally incapable making decisions and there is no lasting power of attorney in place, the matter can be referred to the Court of Protection. The court will either make the decision itself on the person’s behalf, or appoint a “deputy”, to make the decision.
Do not Resuscitate


A “Do Not Resuscitate” which is a legal order telling a medical team not to perform CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) on a patient.
Grant of Representation The Grant of Representation is a court issued document proving the Executors’ entitlement to deal with the Deceased’s Estate.
Living will  A living will (advance directive) is a statement explaining what medical treatment an individual would not want in the future, should they ‘lack capacity’.   For example, a Do Not Resuscitate order.
Office of the public Guardian The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) protects people in England and Wales who may not have the mental capacity to make certain decisions for themselves, such as about their health and finance.
Power of attorney A power of attorney is a legal document which enables a person to give power to another to look after their affairs when they no longer have the capacity to do so themselves.
Probate Grant of probate is an order of the Court giving one or more people the legal authority to administer the estate of the deceased to distribute its content to the beneficiaries.
Wills A will, also known as a Last Will and Testament, is a legally enforceable declaration of how someone wants their property or assets to be distributed after death.
Financial terms
Funded care A needs assessment will have determined the type and level of care and support needed.  This could range from more help with cleaning and shopping, to adaptations and disability equipment in the home; or residential and nursing home care and/or respite care. Funded care comes from the State through the benefits system, from the local authority and thirdly from the NHS.  Click here to find our guide to help you.
Self-funded care Paying for care is complex, partly because eligibility is means tested, but not for all types of care.  If you don’t agree with the local authority suggestions as appropriate care – you will need to pay the difference via self-funded care.  There are two routes to this type of funding: savings and investments or through the value of property.
Equity release Equity release is a way of unlocking cash tied up in the home, while continuing to live in there.   A proportion of the value or equity of the home is exchanged for a tax-free sum.
Pensions State pensions provide a regular income once a person reaches pension age.   It is based on National Insurance contributions paid during working life.  Many people supplement their state pension with a private pension.

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