Glossary :

Glossary of terms

Note: this glossary was mainly elaborated during the two-year EU funded project called ‘WeDO: Wellbeing and dignity of older persons’

Active ageing

This concept refers to “the process of optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance the quality of life as people age. Active ageing allows people to realize their potential for physical, social, and mental well-being throughout the life course and to participate in society, while providing them with adequate protection, security and care when they need them”.(World Health Organisation, Active Ageing: a policy framework)


The equal and inherent value of every human being. Dignity is considered to be the foundation of human rights, in the sense that every person deserves be treated with dignity by virtue of being human.

Human rights

Entitlements and freedoms of all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, age, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. Human rights are held by all persons equally and universally. They are based on core principles like dignity, fairness, equality, respect and autonomy. Human rights are present in our day-to-day lives and protect our freedom to control the different aspects of our own lives.

Elder abuse

A single or repeated act or lack of appropriate action which causes harm or distress to an older person or violates their human and civil rights. It may include physical abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, financial exploitation and neglect. Elder abuse happens everywhere, including at home within the family, at home with services, or in care. It can be intentional or unintentional (‘bad care’).

Informal carers

Family, friends, neighbours and others who provide care to an older person in need of assistance. Usually they do not have a formal status and are often unpaid.

Integrated care

A coherent set of methods and defined processes to integrate care between hospital and primary care, health and social care, and formal and informal care. The aim of integrated care is to design and implement individual care pathways, financially and administratively coordinated with a view to achieving better outcomes in terms of effectiveness and user satisfaction. The provision of appropriate care at the right moment in the most appropriate setting implies collaboration in multi-disciplinary teams with the older person in need of care and assistance and their carers. When such structure exists, it is the role of the case manager to improve this collaboration.

Long-term care services or ‘services for older people in need of care and assistance’

These encompass prevention, rehabilitation and enablement, cure and care, palliative and end-of-life care. They combine health and social care in support of activities of daily living (ADL) such as eating, bathing, dressing, grooming, housekeeping, and leisure. They also cover the “instrumental activities of daily living (IADL)” such as managing one’s finances, shopping, using the telephone, transportation, and in some countries other activities such as taking medication. They can be delivered in various settings spanning the continuum from the beneficiary’s home to intermediate care and (semi-) residential facilities.


Right of older persons to be actively involved in all spheres of public life. For older persons in need of care and assistance, this also means the development of supportive measures for it, e.g. providing transport to attend social activities or to exercise civic rights, or support of older people with cognitive impairments. Support for active participation should be available until the end of life.

Professional carers

Home, community and residential care staff who receive payment for their work.


Degree or standard of excellence. Quality improvement in long-term care should be a continuous process by which a service or an activity aims at delivering better results through various means. These include a wide range of quality management tools and other mechanisms such as: training for carers, both informal and formal; support for the exercise of users' fundamental rights; the promotion of an age-friendly and supportive environment including access to services; the definition of quality standards; and the assessment of results and outcomes by specific quality indicators.

Service providers

Public, non-profit and commercial agencies delivering services to older people in need of care and assistance in institutional, community or homecare settings.


The condition of being contented, and attain or maintain the best possible healthand integration in society. Social interaction with family, friends and neighbours in the community and any relevant staff in long-stay settings can support the wellbeing of older people in need of care and assistance and improve their quality of life.