The Lexicon for Social Care is an initiative by HIQA’s Chief Inspector of Social Service. The Lexicon provides a list of commonly-used words relevant to social care, along with a definition. The use of standardised language is important for clarity and consistency and all providers of social care are encouraged to use the Lexicon in their communications with HIQA. Below are links to useful documents as well as a search function for the Lexicon.

If you wish to comment or leave feedback on the Lexicon for Social Care then please click here or simply email

  • Guidance for providers on submitting notifications

  • Lexicon for Social Care (PDF)

  • Infographic about the Lexicon


Lexicon catalogue

Displaying 25 - 36 of 411 results.
Term Description


A statement, made without giving proof, that someone has done something wrong or illegal.

Allegation of abuse

A statement describing a purported incident of abuse against another person or persons.

Allow natural death

Discontinuing all medical treatments aimed at prolonging life. This does not include the withdrawing of comfort measures. Allowing natural death encompasses DNAR.


A hostile or argumentative confrontation that may be either verbal or physical, or both.


A type of drug that stops you from feeling pain.

Antecedent, behaviour, consequence

A descriptive assessment that is conducted as an initial part of a complete functional behaviour assessment.


A medicine or chemical that can destroy harmful bacteria in the body or limit their growth.

Antipsychotic drugs

Used to treat psychotic and disturbing behavioural symptoms.


Medications that help your body fight off certain viruses that can cause disease.


Feelings of uneasiness, apprehension, or fear which may be caused by a perceived sense of threat or danger, or which may have no apparent cause.

Applied behaviour analysis

A psychological intervention that applies empirical approaches based upon the principles of respondent and operant conditioning to change behaviour.


The process of breathing a substance into your lungs by accident.