Understanding home care terminology and definitions

Understanding home care terminology and definitions

If you are a family caregiver caring for someone with a chronic illness or injury, undergoing cancer treatment, or who needs ongoing support services to live at home, the health care professionals you are working with may tend to explain things using unfamiliar words.

Understanding the home care terminology commonly used will help you communicate more effectively.

Understanding the home care terminology commonly used will help you communicate more effectively. Here are ten health care terms and definitions most commonly used by health care providers.

Caregiver definition

Even though it may be difficult at first to see yourself in a caregiving role, you are a caregiver, if you are providing ongoing care and support for someone – it could be one or both of your parents, your spouse, a child, or some other family member or friend – who needs you. Your caregiving duties may include dealing with the day to day needs of someone with a disability, a long term illness or injury, or some other medical condition. You may not see yourself as a caregiver, but rather as someone simply supporting a person who needs you. Other similar terms include informal caregiver, family caregiver, carer, and young carer (youth who are helping to care for parents or grandparents).

Activities of daily living definition(ADLs and IADLs)

ADL Care - These are the basic activities that healthy people do on their own each day. Examples of activities of daily living include bathing, getting dressed, walking, using the bathroom, eating, or getting in and out of bed.

Although most of us take these for granted, for some people, these kinds of ADL activities may be very challenging and require help – sometimes from a family member or friend. If the ADL activities require more skilled help and scheduling, then a health professional (e.g. personal support worker or health care aide) may need to be involved.

IADL Care - Instrumental activities of daily living (IADL’s) are important for helping someone live independently, but are not as critical to daily functioning. IADL activities include things like daily housecleaning, doing laundry, shopping, paying bills, transportation to medical appointments, and snow removal. Many seniors need (or are more comfortable asking for help with) IADLs rather than with ADLs. Often older adults welcome someone to go grocery shopping with them, or help them avoid situations that might cause them to potentially fall.

Home care definition

Home care can be defined as a full range of nursing, rehabilitation, crisis and personal support services offered by a provider in a patient’s home or community. In Canada, health care delivery is administered differently by each province and territory.

Personal support definition

Simple daily tasks like taking a bath, feeding, getting dressed, or simply getting around can be difficult for many who rely on caregivers. To assist with these tasks, many caregivers enlist the help of Health Care Aides (HCAs), Community Health Workers (CHWs), and Personal Support Workers (PSWs). With this kind of personal support, those in your care can remain safe and comfortable in their own home and maintain a life with dignity. All PSWs recommended by Elizz are certified and graduates of accredited educational institutions.

Respite definition

Respite care is the provision of short-term, temporary breaks for caregivers who are caring for family members. Caring for someone can be immensely rewarding, and it can also be physically and emotionally exhausting. Respite care can help caregivers maintain well-being and provide a positive experience for the person receiving care. Respite can give you some time to have a much-needed break and do things like spend time with other family members, get your hair done, or attend a yoga class.

Home modification meaning

Home modifications involve making changes to a home to help children and adults with mobility restrictions continue living safely in their homes. Home modifications may include widening doorways for wheelchair access, adding safety grip bars in showers, and installing stair railings to help reduce falls. An occupational therapist can do a home assessment to help caregivers identify safety risks and support making changes to reduce or eliminate those risks. See our article on Home Safety Decorating Tips.

Care transitions definition

The term “care transitions” refers to moving patients between health care professionals or settings as the patient’s condition and care needs change. For example, a patient might receive care from a doctor or specialist as an outpatient, then transition to staying in a hospital under the care of a physician and nursing team, and then be discharged to return home, where he or she receives care from a home care nurse, personal support worker (or community health worker), and/or a rehabilitation therapist.

Many patients and families require support with the challenges of hospital to home transitions, and ensuring that people are safely cared for within their communities. Care transitions may begin prior to hospital admission and continue throughout hospitalization, and focuses on caring for patients by optimizing options for patient discharge.

Advance care planning definition

In advance care planning, you and the person in your care will take the time to reflect, communicate, and make important decisions about their future health and personal care preferences. Advance care planning also involves communicating those preferences to the substitute decision maker (if someone other than yourself) and to family and friends so that if the person in your care becomes incapable of speaking for themselves everyone has been informed about their preferences. Advance care planning might also include recording their preferences in writing and communicating them with the health care team as well as their legal and financial advisors. For additional information on advance care planning see our Elizz article on How To Develop An Advance Care Plan.

Geriatrician definition

A geriatrician is a physician trained to care for the special health needs of people over the age of 65, including physical, mental and social well-being. A geriatrician addresses issues including falls, pain, incontinence, depression, weight loss and dementia. Aging is a process of change and in many cases, rapid change. A geriatrician plays an important role in assessing and helping older adults age well and live as independently as possible through healthy choices and care coordination.

Palliative care meaning

The goal of palliative care is to reduce or relieve patient suffering while improving their quality of life. Palliative care services may include pain and symptom management, nutritional support, personal care (e.g., bathing), functional and safety support (e.g., equipment to assist with walking), and spiritual care. Hospice palliative care is often called palliative care, hospice care or end of life care. Learn more about Palliative Care Options.

In Canada, Elizz is the place for all things caregiving. Powered by Saint Elizabeth Health Care, Elizz offers both caregiver services and support for those in your care.

Have a question? Call Elizz at 1-855-Ask-Eliz (275-3549) or speak with a Caregiver Coach.




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