Home Age & Care Care Glossary – from A to Z

Care Glossary – from A to Z

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 367 views


There are many confusing terms when it comes to nursing. Often two words mean very similar things, such as respite care and respite care. The glossary provides an overview of the most common terms and their meaning – arranged alphabetically from A to Z.


» Activating care

Activating care is a must for all forms of care – in the hospital, nursing home or at home. It is about caring for the person in need of care according to their existing abilities. He is only supported where he absolutely needs help and learns to overcome or compensate for some deficits.

He should not be overwhelmed, but do enough to develop as much freedom and independence from the caregiver as possible. This increases self-confidence and motivates him for all other therapies and everyday steps. However, this help for self-help is significantly more time-consuming than compensatory care, in which everything is taken from the patient.

» Retirement home, retirement home, nursing home

There are basically three different home types:

  • Residential home for the elderly : The residents live relatively independently in small apartments. However, there is the option of sharing meals with others.
  • Nursing home: rooms or small apartments are available, but the household chores such as cleaning or cooking are taken care of by the residents. Nursing care is also offered.
  • Nursing home : The residents live in single or multi-bed rooms, which often also have their own furniture. Comprehensive nursing and housekeeping care is guaranteed.

In most inpatient geriatric care facilities, a combination of the traditional home types of residential home, nursing home and nursing home can now be found under one roof.

» Ambulatory care

This form of care is also called home care . It has the advantage that the person in need of care can continue to live at home. Ambulatory care services visit those in need at home and carry out the previously agreed care services. However, the person in need of care must be independent enough to be able to look after themselves between visits from the care service. If the person in need of care is at risk when they are alone, inpatient care in a nursing home is required.


» Treatment care

The treatment care goes beyond the measures of basic care. It includes medical activities that are delegated to registered nurses and serve to alleviate symptoms or illnesses and to prevent them from getting worse. This includes, for example, changing bandages, measuring blood pressure and blood sugar, administering medication (such as insulin injections) and treating an artificial bowel outlet. The individual elements of treatment care must be expressly prescribed by the doctor treating you.

» Visiting service

On request, counseling centers arrange a visiting service. It supports caregiving relatives when they have to be out of the house for a few hours and do not want to leave the person in need of care alone: ​​For example, the visitors can talk to the person in need of care, go for a walk with them, help them shop or read to them. Most of the visitors are laypeople who have completed a training course.

Elderly people who live alone and have restricted mobility and who are not dependent on care services can also make use of a visiting service, for example via the Red Cross.


People in need of care who are cared for at home are entitled to additional care services. These include, for example, care groups for dementia sufferers, helper groups for hourly relief for caring relatives, day care in small groups or individual care by recognized helpers.

People in need of care in full and semi-inpatient facilities are also entitled to additional care and activation that goes beyond the care required depending on the need for care. The long-term care insurance fund or the private insurance company bears the costs for this.

» Assisted living

The basic idea of ​​assisted living is that everyone lives in their own four walls that are equipped for seniors. If necessary, he can make use of services that are available in the building or in the immediate vicinity (e.g. in the neighboring nursing home) (e.g. outpatient nursing services or pedicure). In the meantime, there are more and more different forms of these alternative forms of living for seniors, for example apartments for the elderly, shared nursing homes or multi-generational houses. The organizational form, type and scope of the assistance offered differ from offer to offer.

» Guardianship law

The right to care regulates the interests of people who require legal support (care). This could be people with disabilities or dementia, for example. The executive body is the guardianship court – it appoints a guardian for the patient, either a relative or an independent professional guardian.

» Care assistants : Care assistants can be employed in homes for people who need special care. They support the person in need of care in coping with and organizing everyday life. The nursing care funds finance them.


» Dementia care

Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia require special care and attention. Additional training and nursing courses are offered not only for geriatric nurses, but also for relatives. They should help them to respond better to the specific needs of people with dementia. Activating care and all measures that help the demented person to gain a fixed daily structure are particularly important in dementia care.

» Demographics

Demography means population science. It analyzes and describes population structures and developments. For example, it also measures the age distribution in a society.


» Relief Amount

People in home care (care levels 1 to 5) are entitled to a so-called relief contribution. Up to 125 euros per month are available to those in need of care for earmarked services to relieve caregiving relatives and to promote independence in everyday life. The amount can be used for day or night care, short-term care, nursing services or for offers to support you in everyday life.

» Substitute care

Replacement care is another term for respite care (see there).


» Case manager

There is a legal right to individual and comprehensive care advice (case management) by the care insurance fund. So-called case managers advise those affected and their relatives about the care services provided by the insurance companies, take care of applications and other formalities and develop an individual care plan together with the person in need of care and their family.

» Family care time

Since January 1, 2015, employees have been entitled to family care leave. You can take some time off to look after close relatives at home – for up to two years with a minimum working time of 15 hours per week. (You can read more about this in the article ” Caring relatives – tips “.)


» Basic care

Basic care includes nursing support with everyday and vital things such as eating, personal hygiene, excretion processes, dressing or going to bed.

This does not include household chores and assistance in carrying out medical prescriptions (e.g. supply of medicines).


” Home care

Nursing care at home includes basic care, treatment care and domestic care for the person in need of care. Treatment nursing services are the focus of home care. This includes measures that are necessary due to the illnesses of the person concerned in order to improve their state of health or not to worsen it. There is an entitlement to home nursing

  • when hospital treatment is necessary but not feasible (hospital avoidance care)
  • if inpatient hospital treatment can be avoided or shortened by nursing at home (hospital avoidance care)
  • if the care is intended to ensure the success of the medical treatment (backup care)
  • because of a serious illness or deterioration in health, especially after a hospital stay, an outpatient operation or after outpatient hospital treatment (support care).

” Domestic supply

Shopping, doing laundry, vacuuming and tidying up are not nursing services. Nevertheless, they are an essential part of the home care of a person in need of care. They are offered, for example, by Mobile Social Services (MSD).

» Tools

According to the Social Security Code, aids are objects to which insured persons are entitled in order to ensure the success of medical treatment, to prevent an impending disability or to compensate for an existing disability. These include, for example, visual, hearing and walking aids, wheelchairs, compression stockings and incontinence aids. Since 2022, nursing staff have been able to decide independently which aids a patient needs and prescribe them themselves. The recommendation by qualified nursing staff replaces the medical prescription previously required for an application. However, it must not be older than 14 days at the time of application.

» hospice

hospice is an institution in which terminally ill people are cared for in the last phase of their lives. The dying person receives comprehensive nursing and pastoral care. There are outpatient and inpatient hospice associations as well as children’s hospices.


» Hospital avoidance care

The doctor can prescribe home nursing care as hospital avoidance care if the treatment of a patient in the hospital would be necessary but is not feasible – for example because the patient refuses inpatient treatment for understandable reasons. In addition, hospital avoidance care may be prescribed to replace or shorten a hospital stay.

Hospital avoidance care includes the necessary treatment and basic care as well as household care. You are entitled to this for up to four weeks per case of illness (an extension is possible in exceptional cases).

» Respite care

Sometimes those in need of care who are otherwise cared for at home are temporarily dependent on inpatient care – for example due to a crisis situation at home or after a stay in hospital. Then they can take advantage of short-term care, i.e. temporary accommodation in a full in-patient home .

The benefits of short-term care are available to all those in need of care in care grades 2 to 5 in the same amount (up to 1,774 euros per year, for up to eight weeks per calendar year). Those in need of care with care grade 1 can use the relief amount (125 euros per month) to take advantage of short-term care services. The funds for respite care that have not yet been used in the current calendar year can also be used for short-term care services.


» MD / MDK

The Medical Service (MD) is the socio-medical advice and appraisal service of the statutory health and long-term care insurance. Among other things, the MD is involved in the assessment of the need for care and the degree of care . The quality assurance of the nursing services also falls within his area of ​​responsibility.

The service was known as the Medical Service of the Health Insurance Funds (MDK) until January 1st, 2020. Due to the MDK reform law, the name changed to MD. The goal of the change in the law: better and more independent inspections of hospitals and care facilities.

» Medicproof GmbH

Medicproof is the medical service of private health insurance companies. It is a subsidiary of the Association of Private Health Insurers. Like the MD, Medicproof uses home visits to assess the level of care, for example.

» Multi-generation houses

Multi-generation houses are the modern version of the village fountain. They offer people of different ages a fixed meeting place. People talk to each other and benefit from each other’s skills: This is where supply and demand for household-related services meet, for example childcare by the hour by the elderly or bulk purchases by the younger for the older neighbors – young and old help each other. Multi-generation houses are open to everyone – regardless of their age and origin.


» National Action Alliance for People with Rare Diseases (NAMSE)

The National Action Alliance for People with Rare Diseases (NAMSE) is committed to improving the health situation of people with rare diseases . The alliance is committed to informing medical staff and educating those affected and their families. Medical care structures are gradually being expanded and expertise is being pooled in special centers for rare diseases. Furthermore, NAMSE promotes research into rare diseases.

” Night care

Night care, together with day care, is one of the semi-inpatient forms of care. During the day, the relatives care for the person in need of care themselves at home. At night he is cared for in a nursing home. Partial inpatient care also takes over the necessary transport of a person in need of care from their apartment to the home and back.


» Advance directive

living will contains your instructions to the doctor in the event that you can no longer make decisions yourself. You can decide which medical treatments you want and which you refuse. A living will is binding for the doctor if it has been written correctly.

» Care documentation

Whether in a nursing home or at home with outpatient care – all individual nursing steps must be documented completely. This includes the measures of basic and treatment care, medication administered and an entry on the current condition of the person in need of care.

» care allowance

Those in need of care can decide for themselves how and by whom they are cared for. If those affected decide to be cared for by relatives, friends or volunteers, the long-term care insurance pays long-term care allowance. The amount of care allowance is graded according to the degree of need for care. With care level 2, the care allowance is 316 euros, with care level 3 it is 545 euros. If care level 4 was determined, the care allowance is 728 euros, 901 euros for care level 5.

» Levels of care

Each person in need of care is divided into one of five legally defined care grades depending on their individual impairments and abilities . These care grades replace the previously applicable three care levels. The assessment and classification into a degree of care is carried out by the medical service of the health insurance companies for legally insured persons and by Medicproof for privately insured persons. The level of benefits from the long-term care insurance fund is graded according to these five grades. One distinguishes:

  • Care level 1 – minor impairments
  • Care level 2 – significant impairment of independence or skills
  • Care level 3 – severe impairment of independence or skills
  • Care level 4 – severe impairment of independence or skills
  • Care level 5 – severe impairment of independence or skills with special requirements for nursing care

If necessary, an objection can be lodged with the long-term care insurance fund against the allocation of a certain degree of care.

» Nursing courses

If you care for a relative or would like to take care of someone in need of care on a voluntary basis, you can take part in a free care course that is paid for by your care insurance company (care insurance companies are obliged to offer such free courses). In these courses you will learn, for example, proper oral care or the use of aids. In certain cases, counseling and training can also take place in the home environment of the person in need of care.

» Maintenance contract

The care contract is concluded between the person in need of care and the outpatient care service . It includes all agreed services that the nursing service is to provide. The cost sharing of health and long-term care insurance should also be noted in it. Every time the care situation changes, the care contract must also be adjusted.


» Senior Residence

Home law basically distinguishes between three different home types: old people’s home, old people’s home and nursing home . Terms such as retirement home, retirement home, residential home, residential park or retirement home are often used synonymously, but are not precisely defined.

» Senior flat shares

Shared apartments (WGs) offer seniors the opportunity to lead an independent life in old age and to be together with other people. In the event of illness or care, the roommates stand up for each other or engage external caregivers (care flat shares). For many seniors, the shared flat is therefore an alternative to a nursing home.

» Inpatient care

In contrast to outpatient or home care, the person in need of care is cared for and cared for in a nursing home or a short-term care station.


» Day care

Day care, together with night care, is one of the semi-inpatient forms of care. Those in need of care are cared for during the day in a nursing home or day care center. You will not only receive meals and nursing care there – physical and mental activation is also important. The visitors are given a daily structure without which they would dismantle more quickly at home.

These facilities are suitable, for example, for caring relatives who work part-time.

» Semi-residential care

Semi-stationary care means that part of the care is provided on an outpatient basis by relatives and the other part in a stationary care facility. The caring family members are relieved for part of the day. The best-known examples are day and night care.


» Transitional care

If, after treatment in the hospital, the care of the person concerned cannot be ensured or can only be insufficiently ensured, interim care takes effect. This can be the case if there is no free place in short-term care or rehabilitation after the hospital stay. Or if relatives cannot look after the person in need of care at home. Transitional care is usually provided in the hospital where the patient was treated. It is limited to ten days per hospital treatment.


» Respite care

If the relatives providing outpatient care fall ill themselves or are planning a holiday or a cure, a replacement outpatient care worker can step in. Since the main carers are temporarily prevented, this is referred to as stand-in care. The costs for preventive care are covered by the long-term care insurance for a maximum of six weeks per calendar year and if the person in need of care is classified as at least care grade 2. Another requirement: the caregiver must have cared for the person in need of care at home for at least six months prior to being unable to attend.

» Power of Attorney

With a power of attorney , you authorize a person of your choice to make decisions in your place. You can give this person power of attorney for all or only for certain areas of responsibility. The authorized representative becomes the representative of your will.


» Residential pen

Home law basically distinguishes between three different home types: old people’s home, old people’s home and nursing home. Terms such as retirement home, retirement home, residential home, residential park or retirement home are often used synonymously, but are not precisely defined.

» Housing adaptation

The term ” adaptation” refers to conversion measures in one’s own home that serve to adapt the living environment to the special needs of the person in need of care or assistance. Above all, safety should be increased by eliminating possible sources of danger such as slippery floors or tripping thresholds (fall prevention). The long-term care insurance fund can grant a cost subsidy for the conversion measures on request.

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