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 73 - 84 of 411 results.
Term Description

Co-decision maker

A person who has the authority to make certain decisions together with another person if they need support to make decisions.


To threaten or to use force to get someone to do something they do not want to do.

Colostomy bag

A plastic bag that collects faecal matter from the digestive tract through an opening in the abdominal wall called a stoma.

Communal facilities

The space and resources made available for the use and enjoyment of all service users.

Communication aid

Any device or support which helps a person communicate more effectively with others.

Communication difficulty

An issue which inhibits the ability of a person to communicate with others.


Usually seen as typified by social relationships based on commonality, either derived from living in a particular geographical location, such as a defined urban neighbourhood or a village, or sharing a particular interest(s) or goal(s), for example, on the basis of ethnicity, gender, religion, or membership of a professional association.

Community healthcare organisation

The regionalised organisational structures of the Health Service Executive (HSE) that providies community and primary healthcare services in Ireland.


Allegations about a service being unsatisfactory or a service user being mistreated.

Complaints procedure

A process which describes how an organisation receives, investigates and manages complaints.

Complex needs

Two or more needs affecting a person's physical, mental social or financial wellbeing that requires additional care and support on a daily basis.


The act of obeying an order, rule, or request.