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In-Home Care Industry Terms

If you think in-home care might be the right choice for you or a family member, here are some common terms it will be helpful for you to know and understand as you begin your search for the best in-home caregiver.


Certification of competency, authority, or credibility, as established by an independent third party. Accreditation proves that an organization has been thoroughly evaluated and has met established quality standards. Look for accreditation by organizations such as: CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities), CCAC (Continuing Care Accreditation Commission), and JCAHO (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations).

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)

Daily self-care activities including eating, bathing, dressing, grooming, working, homemaking, administering medication, and moving about. The ability or inability to perform specific ADLs can help you select the level of care needed for you or your loved one.


The primary person responsible for supporting or taking care of an aging or disabled senior on a day-to-day basis. They may aid in tasks such as medications, dressing, dining, toileting, and ambulating. Often a family member or spouse, or designated health care provider such as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).

Companion care

Provides seniors with emotional support, conversation, and encouragement to stay as healthy as possible, designed for seniors who are generally healthy and who want to remain independent at home. Delivers a valuable social benefit by decreasing isolation and helping to reduce depression from being alone.

Home health care

Care may provided in an individual’s home by licensed healthcare professionals who provide medical care needs, or by professional caregivers who provide daily care to help to ensure the activities of daily living (ADLs) are met.

Hospice care

Care and support for individuals who are chronically or terminally ill, focusing on palliative care rather than heroic life-saving measures. Can include medical, counseling, religious, or social services.

Mobility assistance

Seniors may need assistance getting around the house or performing ADLs, due to Muscle weakness, joint problems, pain, disease, and neurological conditions. Caregivers can assist with mobility to a varying degree, so it is important to be aware of the level of need and communicate that when hiring a caregiver.


Inability to walk, often referring to a bed-ridden or hospitalized person.


Assistance in helping prevent injuries or skin/muscle breakdown that can result from hours spent in bed or in a wheelchair. The caregiver may remind the client of the need for repositioning, usually every two hours, and can assist those who cannot reposition on their own. It is also important to ensure proper positioning after a transfer or move.

Private duty nursing

Senior care of clients provided by nurses, whether an RN (Registered Nurse) or LPN/LVN (Licensed Practical Nurse). Most nurses who provide private duty care are working one-on-one with individual clients.

Respite care

Short break or temporary relief to those who are caring for family members who might otherwise require permanent placement in a facility outside the home.

Toileting/incontinence care

Assistance helping a senior who cannot perform the daily activity of getting to the bathroom as needed throughout the day. Caregivers are trained to assist as needed, while also caring for the senior’s dignity and privacy.


Assistance in helping a person stand/sit/get out of bed, ranging from minimum assist (person can support 85-90% of his or her own body weight), moderate assist (50% or more weight-bearing), or maximum assist (50% of less weight-bearing). Based on the level of assistance needed, caregivers may utilize different techniques or equipment, including verbal cues, hands-on assistance, and a gait belt.

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