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Home Care Terms You Need to Know


When talking to a health professional, it is normal to come across some strange terms that will be used during the conversation. If you are undergoing cancer treatment, diagnosed with a chronic illness or injury or have elderly parents who need home care support in order to live at home, unfamiliar words may be used by your health professionals during initial conversation, then it becomes pertinent for you to get yourself familiar with such unfamiliar words. Highlighted below are some common terms used by health health professionals:

Home care

This can be defined as a full range of rehabilitation, nursing, crisis and personal support services that is offered by a health care provider right in the patient’s immediate environment like home or community.

Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s)

Activities that healthy people do on a daily basis are Activities of Daily Living (ADL). Such activities include walking, getting dressed, using the bathroom, getting in and out of bed and eating. As a result of bad health condition or age, these activities may be very difficult and challenging, help may be required from health professionals like health care aide or personal support workers.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL’s)

To help someone live independently, Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL’s) becomes very important. Such activities may include laundry, housecleaning, shopping, transportation to medical appointments, paying bills and snow removal. Many people ask for help with IADL’s more than with ADL’s. This is because the tasks under IADL’s are more demanding than that of ADL’s.

Caregivers deliver assistance and care for parents, spouses, children, those suffering from illness and other people who need support. Support might be needed from a caregiver because of medical conditions, age, injury, disability or long term illness. On many occasions, people many not see themselves as caregiver, but rather as someone who is simply supporting a person in need. Other related terms include carer, young carer and informal caregiver.

Personal support

Community Health Workers (CHWs), Personal Support Workers (PSWs) and Health Care Aides (HCAs) support people with daily personal care needs including toileting, bathing, dressing, feeding, mobility and other activities of daily living. Such workers may be graduates of certified and accredited educational programs.

Respite care

The provision of short-term, brief breaks for those who are caring for family members is respite care. Respite gives time to have a break and do things like getting your hair done, spending time with family members or attending a yoga class.

Home Modification

All changes made to a home are called home modifications. These changes might be adding grip bars in railings to reduce falls and broadening doorways for wheelchair access. All these help adult and children with movement issues to continue to live safely.

Care Transitions

This is the movements patients make as their care needs and condition change; this movement is between health care professionals. A patient may move from hospital under the care of a nursing team and physician to home in order to receive care from personal support worker, rehabilitation therapist or community health worker as well as a home care nurse.

He/she is a trained physician that cares for the special health needs of elderly people including mental, physical and social well-being. He/she addresses issues including pain, falls, incontinence, weight loss, depression and dementia.

Palliative Care

This is the type of care provided to clients suffering from illness that is life threatening. It is also known as hospice palliative care, end of life care or hospice care. The goal is to reduce suffering and distress as well as improving quality of life by managing pain and symptom, providing nutritional support, personal care as well as by providing safety and functional support.

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