Learn more about The Advonet Group’s glossary
This jargon buster or glossary of words contains the definitions of some of the terms commonly used in advocacy and health and social care. It is not a complete list of all the words you might come across and if you need a word explained that isn’t in this jargon buster, please contact us and we will explain it to you and add it to the list here.
Adult Social Care: Care and support for adults who need extra help to manage their lives and be independent – including older people, people with a disability or long-term illness, people with mental health problems, and carers. Adult social care includes assessment of your needs, provision of services or allocation of funds to enable you to purchase your own care and support. It includes residential care, home care, personal assistants, day services, the provision of aids and adaptations and personal budgets.
Advance Decision: A decision you make about what medical treatment you would or would not want in the future, if you were unable to make decisions because of illness or because you lacked capacity to consent. Unlike an advance statement, it is legally binding in England and Wales. If you are thinking about making an advance decision, you should talk about this with your family and your GP.
Advance Statement: A written document that lets people know what your wishes, feelings and preferences are about your future care and support, in case you become unable to tell them. (It may also be included in your support plan.) It can cover any aspect of your care, such as where you want to live and how you like to do things. You can write it yourself, with support from your family, friends, doctor and anyone else you wish. It isn’t a legal document, but it may help you get the care and support you want. It is different to an ‘advance decision’ about medical treatment, which is a decision you can make now about whether you want a particular type of treatment in the future.
Advocacy: Help to enable you to get the care and support you need that is independent of your local services. An advocate can help you express your needs and wishes, and weigh up and take decisions about the options available to you. They can help you find services, make sure correct procedures are followed and challenge decisions made by councils or other organisations.
AMHP: Approved Mental Health Professional. A professional with specialist training who can be called on to arrange for a person to have their mental health assessed, to decide whether they should be admitted to hospital for their own safety or the safety of others. The approved professional’s main job may be social worker, occupational therapist, community mental health nurse or psychologist.
Best Interests: Other people should act in your ‘best interests’ if you are unable to make a particular decision for yourself (for example, about your health or your finances). The law does not define what ‘best interests’ might be, but gives a list of things that the people around you must consider when they are deciding what is best for you. These include your wishes, feelings and beliefs, the views of your close family and friends on what you would want, and all your personal circumstances.
BIA: Best Interests Assessor. An independent person who looks at whether someone who lacks capacity and is in hospital or a care home is there for the right reasons, and whether it is in their best interests to stay there.
Capacity: The ability to make your own choices and decisions. In order to do this, you need to be able to understand and remember information, and communicate clearly – whether verbally or non-verbally – what you have decided. A person may lack capacity because of a mental health problem, dementia or learning disability.
Care Act 2014: A law passed in England in 2014 that sets out what care and support you are entitled to and what local councils have to do. According to the law, councils have to consider your wellbeing, assess your needs and help you get independent financial advice on paying for care and support.
Care Package: The range of services offered to you as an individual by your council, following an assessment of your needs. It may include day services, aids and adaptations for your home and personal care.
Care Pathway: A plan for the care of someone who has a particular health condition and will move between services. It sets out in a single document what is expected to happen when, and who is responsible. It is based on evidence about what works best to treat and manage your particular condition.
Care Plan: A written plan after you have had an assessment, setting out what your care and support needs are, how they will be met (including what you or anyone who cares for you will do) and what services you will receive. You should have the opportunity to be fully involved in the plan and to say what your own priorities are. If you are in a care home or attend a day service, the plan for your daily care may also be called a care plan.
Carer: A person who provides unpaid support to a partner, family member, friend or neighbour who is ill, struggling or disabled and could not manage without this help. This is distinct from a care worker, who is paid to support people.
CCG: Clinical Commissioning Group. A group of GP practices in a particular area that work together to plan and design health services in that area. Each CCG is given a budget from NHS England to spend on a wide range of services that include hospital care, rehabilitation and community-based. Your local CCG should work with the council and local community groups to ensure that the needs of local people are being met.
Court of Protection: An English court that makes decisions about the property, finances, health and welfare of people who lack mental capacity to make decisions for themselves. The court can appoint a ‘deputy’ to make ongoing decisions on behalf of someone who lacks capacity. It is also able to grant power of attorney.
CPA: Care Programme Approach. An approach to care planning for people with serious mental health problems. It helps mental health services to assess your needs and work out how best to support you. You will have regular contact with a care coordinator, who may be a social worker, community psychiatric nurse or occupational therapist. The coordinator will work with you to write a ‘care plan’, based on your individual needs and circumstances.
DoLS: Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. Legal protection for people in hospitals or care homes who are unable to make decisions about their own care and support, property or finances. People with mental health conditions, including dementia, may not be allowed to make decisions for themselves, if this is deemed to be in their best interests. The safeguards exist to make sure that people do not lose the right to make their own decisions for the wrong reasons.
HCA: Health Complaints Advocacy. A service that can help you make a complaint about any aspect of your NHS care or treatment.
IMCA: Independent Mental Capacity Advocate. An independent person who is knowledgeable about the Mental Capacity Act and people’s rights. An IMCA represents someone who does not have capacity to consent to specific decisions, such as whether they should move to a new home or agree to medical treatment. The law says that people over the age of 16 have the right to receive support from an IMCA, if they lack capacity and have no-one else to support or represent them.
IMHA: Independent Mental Health Advocate. A service that should be offered to you if you are being treated in hospital or somewhere else under the Mental Health Act. Independent Mental Health Advocates are there to help you understand your legal rights, and to help make your views heard. This is not the same as Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy (IMCA), which is for people who are unable to make certain decisions and have no one to support or represent them. But there may be times when someone needs both an IMHA and an IMCA.
Informal Patient: Someone who is in a mental health ward in hospital who is there by choice and can leave if they wish. This is different to a formal patient, who does not have the freedom to leave.
PALS: Patient Advice and Liaison Service. A service within every NHS Trust that can provide information or advice on any aspect of your health care that you are concerned about. It can help you resolve problems, understand your options or make a complaint.
Personal Budget: Money that is allocated to you by your local council to pay for care or support to meet your assessed needs. The money comes solely from adult social care
Power of Attorney: A legal decision you make to allow a specific person to act on your behalf, or to make decisions on your behalf, if you are unable to do so. There are two types. Ordinary power of attorney is where you give someone the power to handle your financial affairs for you, but you continue to make decisions about your money. This depends on you continuing to have mental capacity to make these decisions. Lasting power of attorney is where you allow someone to make decisions on your behalf about your property and finances or health and welfare, if the time comes when you are unable to make these decisions for yourself.
Support Plan: A plan you develop that says how you will spend your personal budget to get the life you want. You need to map out your week, define the outcomes you hope to achieve, and show how the money will be used to make these happen. Your local council must agree the plan before it makes money available to you. The advocate is there to represent your interests, which they can do by supporting you to speak, or by speaking on your behalf. They do not speak for the council or any other organisation. If you wish to speak up for yourself to make your needs and wishes heard, this is known as self-advocacy.
There aren’t any glossary words at the moment.