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What is social care?

This is an A-Z list of some of the main terms and language used in social care.

Adult social care: Social care provided to those aged 18 or older.

Agency staff: Care providers will use recruitment agencies to temporarily fill gaps in their workforce. This is more expensive than paying for full-time staff members.

Care home: Run by councils, charities or private companies, care homes offer short-term or full-time residential and/or nursing care to people. They often specialise in certain kinds of care and support such as dementia care or mental health care. They help residents to live a healthy and happy life as much as possible. They help residents with activities such as eating, washing, taking medications and moving around the facility when assistance is needed.

Care Quality Commission (CQC): The regulator of social care providers (as well as healthcare services) in England.

Children’s social care: Social care for those under 18.

Compliance: Following the rules set out in law and by the regulator.

Day care: A service allowing a relative to drop off person needing care for a number of hours during the day. A form of respite care.

Dementia: A degenerative syndrome that attacks one’s mental capacities, for example memory, language, problem-solving and decision-making. It can also affect mood and sometimes comes with symptoms such as anxiety. It includes Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other conditions.

Department of Health and Social Care: The department of the UK Government that deals with health and social care.

Domiciliary care: See ‘Home care’.

Health and social care: The collective term for all parts of the health sector and the social care sector.

Health and Social Care Select Committee: A cross-party House of Commons select committee that examines the policies and expenditure of the Department of Health and Social Care.

Healthcare: All services related to people’s health, for example hospitals, dentists, GP surgeries, opticians, mental health services, sexual health services and more. These are distinct from social care services which, traditionally, do not provide healthcare services, though the lines do sometimes blur.

Home care: Similar to a care home service, but provided within a person’s own home. Also known as domiciliary care or ‘dom care’.

Integrated retirement communities (IRCs): Previously known as ‘housing with care’, this new phrase was created by ARCO (Associated Retirement Community Operators) to bridge the gap between care homes and retirement living/housing. IRCs offer a more independent way of life than a care home, with individual apartments or homes, but also offering some health and care services.

NHS (National Health Service): The UK’s publicly-funded healthcare system, founded by Aneurin Bevan in 1948.

Nursing home: Like a care home, but providing more medical care and with a nurse on-site 24 hours a day. Usually more expensive.

Overseas workers: Staff members recruited from other countries, something upon which the social care sector is increasingly reliant. This usually involves a visa sponsorship, whereby the worker gets a working visa as part of the deal.

Personal assistant: Someone who usually supports a person with everyday tasks in their home and/or in the community. Personal assistants are usually employed directly by the individual in need of care on a somewhat informal basis, meaning they often go without leave and holiday pay, pension pay and other benefits.

Private payer: Someone paying for their own care, rather than accepting government-funded care.

Reform: The care sector has been seeking reform from the government for many years, with the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuing financial crisis causing delays. Reform will encompass moves such as incorporating healthcare and social care, as well as reform of the sector’s charging model.

Registered manager: The CQC website says: “A registered manager is in day-to-day charge of one or more regulated activities. The manager has joint legal responsibility with the provider for ensuring compliance with the regulations.”

Regulation: The systems in place that keep social care services from breaching rules around safety, quality and standards. This is enforced by a regulator or regulating body.

Regulator: The body that enforces regulations and keeps care safe. These include the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in England, Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW), the Care Inspectorate in Scotland and the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) in Northern Ireland.

Respite care (or services): Similar to day care, but for an unspecified length of time, respite care gives unpaid carers (family members and friends) a break from caring or an introduction to how residential care can support people.

Retirement living (or housing): These facilities are similar to Integrated Retirement Communities (IRCs), offering age-restricted care but with limited amenity or care. It was previously called ‘sheltered housing’, and is the option that often bears the most resemblance to a hotel.

Safeguarding: Measures put in place to protect residents from abuse or neglect.

Self-funder: Someone paying for their own care, rather than accepting government-funded care.

Social care: Any personal care or support required by people of any age. Recipients may have a physical disability, mental disability or mental ill health, or otherwise be vulnerable or at risk due to factors like old age or poverty.

Social work: Similar to social care, but usually this profession requires a degree to enter.

Sponsorship: Thousands of workers from other countries join the UK’s social care workforce every year, and most require a visa. Some care providers are able to sponsor a worker by providing their work visa.

Unpaid carers: Family members or friends who provide care to a person. As the UK’s ageing population grows and funding for social care remains insufficient, the country’s reliance on unpaid carers continues to grow.

This glossary was originally published by Care Home Professional magazine here: https://www.carehomeprofessional.com/what-is-social-care-a-glossary-of-sector-terms-and-definitions/

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