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 85 - 96 of 411 results.
Term Description

Compression stockings

Clothing worn on the lower leg to assist circulation.

Alternative term(s) not to be used : Pressure stockings


Information provided by a person which describes circumstances where a person may be at risk.


A general sense of uncertainty about what is happening to a person or what they are supposed to do.

Congregated setting

Living arrangements where several people share a single residence or where the living arrangements are campus‐based.


To agree to do something, or give permission to someone to do something.


Doctor with special training and knowledge in a particular area of medicine.

Alternative term(s) not to be used : Specialist


Seeking the views of service users and/or other interested parties in the running of a care service.


The ability to control when you urinate and empty your bowels.

Contributory cause of death

Any cause of death that is neither the immediate, intervening, originating antecedent nor underlying cause; hence these are other significant conditions that contributed to the fatal outcome, but were not related to the disease or condition directly causing death.

Control measure

The action(s) which have been identified in a risk assessment as necessary to mitigate or prevent harm.

Alternative term(s) not to be used : Control

Controlled drugs

Any substance, product or preparation specified in the schedule of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977.


Resting in order to get better after an illness or injury.

Alternative term(s) not to be used : Recovering