Sometimes it can be difficult to understand the information you are given because you don't know the words being used or how the health and social care systems work. This A-Z list of common terms could help you understand the information that you've been given by health or social care professionals, or that you've found elsewhere.
Admiral Nurses are mental health nurses specialising in dementia. They work with family carers and people with dementia, often in their homes. Admiral Nurses seek to improve the quality of life for people with dementia and their carers.
An advocate is someone who argues your case for you and makes sure the correct procedures are followed. If you have had difficulties with benefits or services, for instance, you may find that an advocate can help solve these problems. For more information, see our page on advocacy.
If you're applying to remain in the UK as a refugee then you're "seeking asylum". You may be eligible for services and support as a carer while you're waiting for a decision on your asylum application. This can be housing, education, health and financial support. For more information, see our pages on Asylum Support.
Attendance Allowance is a benefit for severely disabled people if they need help with personal care and are over 65. For more information, see our page on Attendance Allowance.
Bereavement is a term that describes the feelings you have when someone dies. Bereavement can consist of a whole series of emotions and can be delayed or take a long time to get over fully. As a carer, bereavement may be extra hard because you may be losing your sense of purpose when your caring role ends.
Carer's tip from Netbuddy
"No matter how desperate you feel when you are seeking help (and I have been really on the very edge of reason!) be specific. Whatever it is that you need, you must summon the energy to state clearly exactly what help you want, why you want it, and what will happen if you don’t get it.".
Visit Netbuddy to read more carers' tips like this.
A Blue Badge is a permit that allows someone with severe mobility problems to park for free or for longer and closer to places they wish to visit. It also gives discounts on some road tolls. For more information, see our page on the Blue Badge scheme.
A care home is a place where older people or people with learning disabilities who can no longer look after themselves can be looked after. Care homes can offer specially trained staff and an adapted environment suitable for the needs of ill, frail or disabled people.
After a community care assessment for the person you are looking after has been carried out, the local authority will provide a written plan, setting out their needs and the services on offer.
Care Programme Approach
This system co-ordinates the health services for people with severe mental health problems with social care through a formal care plan outlining risks. For more information, see our page on Care Programme Approach.
Care Quality Commission
The Care Quality Commission enforces the rules on all healthcare services and adult social care services in England regardless of who runs them. Children’s social services are regulated by Ofsted.
A carer is a person giving assistance to an ill, disabled or frail person, usually a relative, for no wage.
Carer's Allowance is the main benefit for adult carers of people who get a disability benefit, who are also on a low income. For more information, see our page on Carer's Allowance.
A carer's assessment a meeting with social services to discuss your caring needs and how your local authority might be able to help you (rather than the person you look after). It is not a test of how good you are at caring. For more information, see our pages on assessments.
Child Tax Credit
Child Tax Credit is a benefit paid if you're responsible for a child (you don't necessarily need to be a parent) and your income is low. For more information, see our page on Child Tax Credit.
Children Act assessment
A Children Act assessment is an assessment for an ill or disabled child to establish the help and support that they need that the local authority may be able to help with. For more information, see our pages on assessments.
Community care assessment
This is the way to establish the care needs of the person you look after and can lead to them receiving services that may make both of your lives easier. It can be a route to getting respite care. For more information, see our pages on assessments.
Your council provides most of your local public services, such as refuse collection, road maintenance and social care. There are different council systems in operation across the country, which is why we refer to your ‘local authority’.
Council Tax Benefit
Council Tax Benefit helps with the costs of your Council Tax bill if you’re on a low income. Some people may already be exempt from paying Council Tax, so it’s worth checking on that too. For more information, see our pages on Council Tax Benefit.
A payment of your benefits directly into your bank or building society account is called a direct payment. This is different from the direct payments system, which is a way of funding care. For more information about direct payments, see below.
Direct payments is a way of choosing the services you receive. It is different from receiving a direct payment of your benefits (see above). For more information about the direct payments system, see our pages on direct payments.
Disability Living Allowance
Disability Living Allowance is a benefit that helps with the extra costs that disabled people face as a result of their disabilities. It is not means tested and is available to people up to the age of 65. For more information, see our pages on Disability Living Allowance.
Employment and Support Allowance
Employment and Support Allowance is a benefit paid to people whose ability to work is limited by ill health or disability. This might mean it is only paid for a short time if the illness improves. It can top up your income if you have little money, or you can get an extra amount if you’ve paid enough National Insurance. For more information, see our pages on Employment and Support Allowance.
The belongings, savings and property of a person is called their estate. The term is commonly used in the will of a person who has died. For more information, see our pages on end of life care.
Flexible working is an agreement made between you and your employer that allows you to change the times and days that you work. For more information, see our pages on flexible working.
Home care is where paid care professionals come to the home of the person you are looking after to provide support to them.
Housing Benefit helps with your rent if you’re on a low income. It is worth claiming Housing Benefit along with Council Tax Benefit as they are worked out in a similar way. For more information, see our pages on Housing Benefit.
Income Support is a benefit paid if you're on a low income. It is important to claim Income Support if your income is low as it can lead to much more financial help. For more information, see our pages on Income Support.
Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance is a benefit for people who are unemployed but capable of work and looking for work. For more information, see our pages on Jobseeker's Allowance.
Your local authority is the public body, usually a council, that provides you with social services.
Marie Curie nurses
Marie Curie nurses are specialist cancer nurses who can look after someone who is ill with cancer in their own home.
Motability is a charity scheme to help the person you look after get a car (even if they are just going to be a passenger), powered wheelchair or scooter if they have mobility problems. For more information, see our pages on Motability.
NHS continuing care
NHS continuing care is care for someone who is ill or disabled that is funded by the NHS. For more information, see our pages on continuing care.
Sometimes you will qualify for more than one benefit but, because they are both designed to replace lost earnings, you will only be paid one. These overlapping benefits can include state pension, contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Incapacity Benefit, Employment and Support Allowance, Maternity Allowance, Widow’s or Bereavement Pension, Widowed Mother’s or Widowed Parent’s Allowance, Carer’s Allowance and Severe Disablement Allowance.
Parental leave is unpaid leave from work that you can take in order to look after your children while they are under five years old (or under 18 if they are disabled).
Pension Credit is a benefit that is paid if your weekly income is low. It can be paid on top of retirement and other pensions. It is paid either as a guarantee credit (if your income is low) or savings credit to reflect the fact that you've made special provisions for your retirement, such as contributing to a personal pension or building up a modest amount of savings. For more information, see our pages on Pension Credit.
Personal health budget
A personal health budget is a plan for your healthcare that you develop, knowing how much NHS money is available.
Power of attorney
A power of attorney is a way of allowing someone to make decisions about your affairs or your wellbeing on your behalf. It can be used if you lose the ability to make your own decisions about your affairs. For more information, see our pages on power of attorney.
Primary care trust
A primary care trust is the public organisation that runs the local healthcare system outside of hospitals. This includes GP practices, community nurses and health visitors.
Respite is a break from caring for someone else. This can mean a few hours during the day, “night sitting” or even a full holiday. For more information, see our pages on time off.
Safeguarding is a way to prevent people who are deemed “unsuitable” from working with vulnerable adults or children.
The Social Fund is a government fund that offers grants and loans to help you with living costs that aren't covered by your weekly benefit payments. For more information, see our pages on the Social Fund.
Social services is the department of your local authority that deals with issues around disability and caring.
Special needs describes a child who has a disability that means they find learning more difficult than most children of a similar age.
Special needs assessment
A special needs assessment is an assessment by the local authority of what additional help your child may need because of their learning difficulties or disability. For more information, see our pages on special educational needs.
Sure Start is a government programme designed to give every child the best start in life by co-ordinating early education, childcare, health and family support.
Working Tax Credit
Working Tax Credit is a benefit that tops up low incomes if you work at least 16 hours a week. It's not a tax allowance, it's a non-taxable benefit. For more information, see our pages on Working Tax Credit.