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Adult Care Glossary


Medical term for a graze


A collection of pus that forms in a tissue as a result of infection which often swells up


The process by which food molecules are absorbed through the walls of the small intestine into the blood stream. As food passes into the large intestine water is then absorbed


When someone completely refrains from using a particular substance


Mistreating or causing someone harm; this can be emotionally, physically, psychologically, institutionally, financially, sexually etc


An event that occurs by chance without an apparent or deliberate cause


Acceptance of responsibility for your own actions and any related consequences


The formal recognition of the compliance with a standard


Any chemical that has a pH value of 0 to 6. They have a sour taste and may cause severe skin burns

Adverse Events, Incidents, Errors and Near Misses

Circumstances where unfavourable events have almost occurred, the recognition of which can help prevent them from occurring in the future

Active Listening

A technique of feeding back to the speaker what has been communicated to demonstrate understanding and engagement with what has been said

Active Participation

Enabling and supporting individuals to be included in the decisions and choices regarding their care provision; recognition of an individual’s right to participate in the activities and relationships of everyday life as independently as possible

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)

The daily activities we perform for self-care (such as feeding ourselves, bathing, dressing, homemaking and leisure etc.) The ability or inability to perform these activities can be used as a measure of ability or disability in many disorders


A health problem that lasts for a short while from which the person recovers


When someone fits in with new circumstances, situations etc


A syndrome and pattern of substance misuse, the sufferer is unable to control their behaviour


A substance intentionally added to food for a specific purpose – it would not normally be there


That which is necessary to adapt to, or make a change


The formal commencement of providing care provision

Adrenal Glands

They produce hormones including cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline and are situated just above the kidneys


A hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to a person being frightened, angry or under stress. It prepares the body for “fight or flight” by increasing blood circulation and breathing

Advance Medical Directive/ Advance Statement

Documents that indicate a client’s wishes about health care

Adverse Drug Reaction

Unexpected or dangerous reaction to a drug administered at normal dosage

Advice and Support

This can come from within or outside your organisation and will assist you in fulfilling your duties and may include raising concerns


Someone who is formally designated to speak up for the interests of someone else

Advocacy Services

A service whereby an independent individual represents the wishes of another person whilst promoting their best interests without giving their personal opinion or views

Aerobic Exercise

Exercises which promote getting a good supply of oxygen into the lungs and then efficiently transporting it in the blood system to the muscles where it is used to provide energy


When someone is treated unfairly because of their age


A group of people who have a shared specific purpose


Actively making a forceful approach towards someone else


Signs that show someone is becoming excited, troubled, irritated, aggressive etc

Agreed Ways of Working

Policies and procedures within an organisation based on sector standards and guidelines that need to be followed

AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)

Caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) which attacks the body’s immune system making its ability to fight infection difficult

Airborne Transmission

Transmission of infection from one person to another by being breathed in from the air


These chemical substances are also referred to as bases. They may cause severe burns to the skin and have a pH value from 8 to 14


An abnormal response of the immune system to an otherwise harmless substance

Alzheimer’s Disease

A disorder in which there is a progressive loss of mental ability due to a deterioration of brain tissue. Memories are lost and, as brain cells die off, behaviour and personality changes occur. It is incurable


Absence of menstrual periods in women who have not yet reached menopause. It is brought about by low levels of oestrogen


The cutting off of a part of the body, usually a limb


A condition in which there is a deficiency of red blood cells or haemoglobin resulting in tiredness. It may be due to disorders such as heavy periods or lack of iron


Drugs that induce the total loss of sensitivity either in a localised area or in the whole body after loss of consciousness


Absence of pain in response to a stimulus that would normally be painful

Anaphylactic Shock (Anaphylaxis)

A severe allergic reaction which may be life threatening. It is rare and may be caused by insect stings, medication or a food allergy. It can cause swelling, anxiety, difficulty breathing and may be fatal


The study of parts of the body

Anecdotal Records

These record descriptions of anything that catches your attention, they may be noted at the time or at a later point


Blood-filled sac in an artery wall caused by weakening of the wall or dilation


A feeling of pressure or pain in the chest caused by the heart muscle not getting enough oxygen because the coronary arteries are too narrow. It is usually brought on by exertion and relieved by rest


A psychological illness and eating disorder that is characterised by an obsessive desire to lose weight by refusing to eat and a distorted perception of body weight


Drugs that inhibit the growth of, or destroy, micro-organisms


These are proteins that are produced by the body to fight a specific infection or illness. They attach themselves to bacteria and poisons that get into the blood to stop them from being harmful


These are taken by people with epilepsy to prevent fits


Prescribed drugs used to treat depression

Anti-discriminatory Practice

To actively work to avoid and eliminate discrimination


A remedy to relieve, prevent, or counteract the effects of a poison

Antiembolism Stockings

Elastic stockings worn to prevent the formation of blood clots in the legs


Prescribed drugs used to treat psychosis


Substance that reduces the growth of micro-organisms


The area where the large intestine opens to exit the body


State of intense worry and/or fear that affects the mind and body


The artery from which blood leaves the heart


A condition whereby someone finds it difficult to put their thoughts into words


A strong desire to satisfy a bodily need for food


Formal feedback about your job. This is an opportunity for both the employee and the employer to look at how the employee is doing in their role


The dark coloured ring which is around the nipple

Arousal Threshold

The level to which noise or pain, for example, needs to reach before the brain responds by waking you up


Blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood around the body and, therefore, flow away from the heart


Pain in a joint


A group of inflammatory and degenerative conditions which affect the joints causing pain, stiffness and swelling


Surgical technique in which all or part of a joint is replaced


How words are spoken in order to be understood

Artificial Immunity

This is when a vaccine is introduced into the blood which causes white blood cells to make antibodies against that particular poison or infection. It also “teaches” the immune system how to produce more of the same antibodies quickly again if required

ASD or Autistic Spectrum Disorder (see Autism) Asphyxia

This is when there is a failure of oxygen supply to the brain. If it is not treated rapidly it will lead to a lack of consciousness, permanent brain damage and eventually to death


To breathe in


To physically make contact with someone else’s body without their consent and with the intention of harming them


To act in a positive way. To be able to state your own point of view and express your feelings without unpleasantness and with respect for the views of others


Evaluation of a need, requirement

Assisted Bath

A bath which is designed to permit side or end access for a mobile hoist, or other mechanism, to allow a patient to be transferred from a bed, couch or trolley and raised or lowered into it

Assistive Devices

Equipment or other items to help clients perform activities of daily living more easily


Believing something to be right or wrong without checking it


Intermittently the muscles of the airways spasm, making breathing difficult


When the cornea – the layer over the front of the eye – is slightly misshapen. This means light is bent in slightly different ways and the lens can’t focus everything properly so you get blurred vision


Showing no symptoms

At Work

The environment within which carry out your working duties, whether this be a care home or the home of the individual you support


The loss of the power to control movement or muscular action


Narrowing of the arteries due to a hardening of the walls and the build up of fatty deposits which results in reduced blood flow. It is a major cause of stroke and heart attack and of poor circulation to the extremities

Athlete’s Foot

A fungal infection of the foot, often affecting the skin between the toes which can have a cracked and sore or white and flaky appearance. It can be caused by several different types of fungi which thrive in warm, humid conditions


The decrease in size or wasting of an organ or tissue. It usually follows a period of disuse or immobility


An affectionate bond between two people which joins them emotionally and is lasting

Atypical Depression

This is similar to “normal” depression except that the sufferer’s mood can be temporarily lifted by something good happening


Assists people with hearing improvements – hearing aids etc


This is when the standards of the setting are monitored and evaluated by an independent agency

Autism (ASD – Autistic Spectrum Disorder)

A disorder characterised by difficulties in social interaction and communication. Many sufferers demonstrate repetitive patterns of thought and behaviour and can sometimes have a learning disability


A machine that sterilises medical equipment using steam pressure

Autoimmune Disorders

These are conditions where the immune system malfunctions and does not recognise the body’s own tissues. As a result it produces antibodies and white blood cells that attack and try to destroy them

Autonomic System

A system of nerves which, together with parts of the brain and spinal cord, control what is going on inside the body without you having to think about it (e.g. heart beat, breathing, sweating)


Acting independently