Jargon buster


This page explains some of the common phrases and acronyms used within adult social care and the marketing profession to help you understand the references and how it applies. It’s an update to the original glossary of terms and will be updated on a regular basis. 

If you have a suggestion of something you would like to be added or edited, please get in touch.


Adult social care is the general term used to refer to the extra support or care needed to carry out daily tasks to help vulnerable adults maintain their quality of life. This extra help and support may include: 
• help at home with simple tasks like shopping, laundry and cleaning; personal care such as washing, dressing and preparing a meal; 
• 24-hour care in a care home or a housing with care scheme (see definition below); 
• home adaptations and equipment to make life easier to help vulnerable adults live independently at home.

Adult day care – is typically a non-residential facility that supports people to enjoy the independence of living in their own home, but may want company and support during the day, and the opportunity to meet local people in the community. The majority of centres provide meals, activities and general support. Some also offer transport and personal care.

Advertising – is the promotion of a product, service, generally using paid-for media.

Adwords – Google Adwords is an online advertising service where advertisers pay to display brief advertising copy, product listings, and video content within Google ad network to web users.

Assisted living – see Extra care.Assistive technology – is a device or system that supports people with disabilities or frailty with practical solutions for everyday living in order to enable them to perform functions that might otherwise be difficult or impossible, or to call for assistance in the case of an emergency.


Benchmarking – is comparing your business processes and performance metrics to others in the same market to see how they are performing, and measuring your own performance against theirs. 

Blogs – is an online journal or informational website that is written in an informal or conversational style.

Brand – a set of attributes of a product or service (both tangible and intangible) that evokes in the mind of the target audience. This may include a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies a company’s products or service as distinct from those of others.

Brand voice – would someone viewing your content (message) on different channels know that it all came from your company brand? The personality of your brand is determined, predominately by the words you use. The Brand voice is the intentional and consistent expression of a brand through words and prose styles that engage and motivate. It can also be referred to as your written tone of voice – brand personality and governs not only what you way, but how you say it.

Branding – is the process of developing a strategy to help people identify your organisation’s product or service. The objective being to attract and retain loyal customers by delivering a product or service that is always aligned with what the brand promises.

Brand building – is the strategic process of identifying and shaping the brand life cycle to ensure it continues to grow and develop over time.

Brand management – is the process used by marketers to optimise the marketing mix for a specific brand.

Business strategy – is the means by which your business plans to achieve its goals and sustain its position in the marketplace.


Care homes – is a communal residential centre where care and support is available 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year by trained carers.

Competitive advantage – is the leverage that a business has over its competitors. This could be from offering better value, quality or any other factor used to differentiate and create a distinction. 

Content – the term is generally used in marketing to refer to the creation and sharing of information and material. This can be in different formats, for example articles, web copy, blogs, video, social media posts, etc.

Content Management System (CMS) – is a software that enables you to create, edit, organise and publish content on the web. Examples include WordPress, Drupal and numerous others.

Content marketing – is the creation and distribution of relevant material, in any format, to your target audience with the express aim of engaging with the audience to drive a profitable relationship.

Convalescence – is the gradual recovery of health and strength after illness or injury.

Copy – refers to written material (content, text) used to market your business.


Dementia care/support – is the support given to people with dementia. Dementia care/support can be provided in the person’s own home or in a care home to offer similar kinds of care to what family members provide at home, such as help with washing, dressing and providing meals.

Digital marketing – is the marketing of products and services though digital technologies. This may include the internet, social media, mobile phones, electronic billboards as well as digital Radio and TV. The key difference to traditional marketing is the ability to receive real-time analysis of the campaign through the digital channel.

Domiciliary care – see Home care 


End of life care – see Palliative care

Extra care / Assisted living / Housing with care – these terms can often be used interchangeably. It combines independent living (self-contained accommodation) with some communal facilities, designed for the needs of older people. Varying levels of care and support available onsite by a dedicated team of care workers. Extra care housing is also known as assisted living, very sheltered housing or housing with care. Many retirement communities also offer extra care housing. Such schemes may be run by housing associations, the local authority, not-for-profit organisations or private companies. Accommodation may be available for rent, purchase or mixed tenure.


Home care (aka domiciliary care) – is when someone visits you at home, to help with your care and support. The care and support is provided by paid care workers who help with a wide range of tasks to include everyday living tasks, such as: washing, dressing, bathing, meals and medication, domestic chores (e.g. cleaning, laundry), and accompany outside of the home including food shopping, escorting to hospital appointments, etc.

Housing with care – see Extra care.


Intermediate care – provides support for a short time to help individuals recover and increase their independence. It usually involves collaboration between health and social care services and is available to anyone aged 18 or over but more usually offered to older people to: help avoid unnecessary stay in hospital; recovery after a fall, an acute illness or an operation to help the person to become as independent as possible. The support is provided to help individuals achieve what they want to be able to do.


Key Performance Indicator (KPI) – is a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives. 


Live-in carer – is when a carer lives in the person’s own home to provide care and support for day-to-day needs. This may include support with personal care, help with shopping, cooking, cleaning, attending healthcare appointments, etc. 

Logo – is a graphic, mark, emblem or symbol that identifies a company or brand. 


Market penetration – is the attempt to grow your business by obtaining a larger market share in an existing market.

Market research – is the process of collecting valuable information to help you learn more about your market and target audience e.g. location, size, growth potential, etc.

Market segmentation – is the process of dividing the market place into distinct subgroups or segments, each characterised by particular tastes and requiring a specific marketing mix.

Marketing – the Chartered Institute of Marketing, the professional body for professional marketers in the UK defines marketing as: “The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.” The CIM definition looks at not only identifying customer needs (through research, customer and market insights), but also anticipating them in the future (long-term retention) and satisfying them profitably to ensure the business is financially sound whether the business is for or not-for profit.

Marketing audit – an exercise to scrutinise an organisation’s existing marketing system to determine its strengths and weaknesses.

Marketing automation – refers to software platforms and technologies designed to more effectively market on multiple channels online and automate repetitive tasks. It is used to track marketing channels to give insight into customer behaviour on and off line.

Marketing channels – is the method used by an organisation to communicate and interact with its customers.

Marketing metrics (Key Performance Indicators – KPIs) – are measurable values used to demonstrate the effectiveness of campaigns across marketing channels. These include measurements that help with the quantification of marketing performance, such as market share, advertising spend, and response rates from advertising or other marketing initiatives.

Marketing mix – is a combination of factors that can be controlled by a company to influence how customers buy products/services. These inputs traditionally encompass four controllable variables ‘the 4Ps’: product, price, promotion and place. The list has subsequently been extended to 7Ps, the additions being people, process and physical evidence.

Marketing orientation – refers to an organisation that is focused on the needs of the customer. It aims to meet customer demands, and therefore profit through customer satisfaction and loyalty. Marketing orientation is sometimes referred to as customer orientation.

Marketing strategy – is the part of your business plan that outlines how you will find and attract customers to your business together with the broad methods chosen to achieve these objectives.

Mass market – refers to a large homogenous market for consumer products or services.

MMS (Multimedia messaging) – is a type of text messaging, however MMS includes pictures, audio and video content. Photos shared on mobile phones are usually sent as MMS.

Mobile marketing – is a digital marketing strategy aimed at reaching your target audience on their smartphones, tablet and/or any other mobile device. This could be done on a website, SMS, MMS, social media or Apps.Mobile responsive – this is when web content is adjusted to make sure that layout, images, fonts, formats and content is resized to fit the mobile device being used to view the content.

Mobile friendly – this is when a website has a single design that works well across desktop and mobile.


Niche marketing – is where you concentrate your marketing efforts to a specific, specialised or well defined segment of the population or target market.

Not-for-profit – is a broad term for independent organisations that do not make private profit for directors, members or shareholders, but reinvest into the business or in the community. There are two main categories: charities and community groups and social enterprises. The main difference between the two categories is to do with who has overall control of the organisation. Charities and community groups are controlled by a committee of volunteers; social enterprises can be controlled by people who have invested in them and/or are paid to work for them.

Nursing home or nursing care – also known as care homes with nursing. This is residential care but with the addition of qualified nurses on duty 24 hours a day. Nursing care means that as well as care staff who help with personal care nursing staff can administer medicines and provide medical care in the care home at any time of day or night.


Personas – are fictional characters which you create based on your research, experience and insight of your market in order to represent the different user types that might use your service, product or brand. Personas allow marketers to create a practical and reliable representation of key segments of your audience. The knowledge should be based on qualitative and quantitative research.  

Personal care – is a broad term used to apply to supporting people with personal hygiene. This includes but not limited to tasks such as bathing/showering, help with going to the toilet, applying creams and lotions, oral hygiene, foot care, shaving, dressing and getting ready for bed.

Palliative care (aka end of life care) – is provided to people living with terminal illness or complex illness that requires their symptoms to be controlled. Palliative care aims to treat and manage symptoms and other physical aliments to improve the quality of life for the individual and give relief where possible. Treatment will involve medicines, therapies, and any other support that specialist teams believe will help the person. It includes caring for people who are nearing the end of life and may also be called end of life care.

Positioning – refers to the place that a brand occupies in the mind of its target audience and how it is distinguished from products from competitors. Positioning is a key element of a marketing strategy to position products or service, companies may emphasize the distinguishing features of their brand (what it is, what it does and how, etc.) or they may try to create a suitable image (inexpensive or premium, utilitarian or luxurious, entry-level or high-end, etc.) through the marketing mix. 

Public Relations (PR) – is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between and organisation and its publics. PR aims to establish and protect the reputation of a company or brand, and to create an understanding between the organisation and the segments of the public with whom it needs to communicate, to influence opinion and behaviour.


Overnight care – this is when care and support is available during the night. Support may include administering medication throughout the night, assistance with using the toilet, help with complex care needs or help with changing position in bed. There are a number of other terms used for overnight care. These include sleeping night and waking night. Sleeping night (aka sleepover care) – the carer is able to sleep during the night but will wake up to provide support and assistance as required, normally by arrangement.
Waking night – a waking night service is when the client does not sleep through the night, but needs continual attention and cannot be left alone. The carer will stay awake throughout the night to provide the support and assistance.


Residential care – are care homes that offer support with things like washing, dressing and moving around. It is usually provided for people who can no longer continue to live in their own homes, even with support from home care services. Staff in care homes will be trained to help people get in and out of bed, provide assistance with eating and day-to-day living tasks.

Respite care – provides short breaks for people who are either being cared for, or their families/carers, to have a break and get some rest.

Return On Investment (ROI) – is a performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment or compare the efficiency of a number of different investments. 


Search engine optimisation (SEO) – is the process of affecting the online visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results.

Segmentation – see market segmentation above.

Sheltered housing – is accommodation provided for people who would like to remain independent but prefer the added security and reassurance of a scheme manager and an alarm call service. Sheltered housing is generally provided by local authority housing departments, housing associations, or not-for-profit organisations. A scheme manager is either based at the site or visits regularly. Many sheltered housing schemes also have communal lounges, laundry facilities and other specially adapted facilities.

Silver surfer – a term of endearment of an older adult who is confident and comfortable in using the internet and new technologies.

Sleeping night (aka sleepover care) – see Overnight care.

SMS (short message service) aka Text Messaging – is a marketing technique that uses mobile text messaging to communicate with your audience. Customers are required to opt-in to receive text messaging.

Social care – is a broad term used to cover the provision of social work, personal care, protection or social support services to children or adults in need or at risk, or adults with needs arising from illness, disability, old age or poverty. The term covers a huge range of different activities. 

Social Media – is the overarching term that covers all types of technology that enables users to create and share content or to participate in social networking. For example, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Skype, Twitter and others.

SPAM – unsolicited e-mail, often advertisements sent to a large number of recipients.

Stakeholder – an individual, organisation or community that has an interest in the strategy and operation of an organisation. Stakeholders may include shareholders, employees, customers, government, local communities, opinion formers, suppliers and partners.

Supported living – refers to the way in which accommodation and support are organised and can be delivered in a range of settings, including individual flats or houses, clusters of self-contained flats on the same site, shared accommodation, and in extra care housing. The individual, a private landlord, a housing association, a local authority or a charity may own the property. Support is tailored to individual need and can include access to support 24 hours a day (if assessed as necessary). Many people in supported living environments do not require intensive support.

SWOT analysis – a method of analysis which examines a company’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Often used as part of the development process for a marketing plan, or to feed the results of a marketing audit back into a revised plan.


Targeting – the use of market segmentation to select and address a key group of potential customers.

Telemarketing – the marketing of a product or service over the telephone.

Telephone Preference Service (TPS) – a database of business and individual telecoms subscribers who have elected not to receive unsolicited direct marketing calls.

Text Messaging – aka SMS (short message service) – is a marketing technique that uses mobile text messaging to communicate with your audience. Customers are required to opt-in to receive text messaging.

Third sector – another name for the not-for-profit sector.

Tone of voice – is how the character of your business comes across in your words, both written and spoken, and visual identity. It’s not just about what you say, but the way that you say it, and the impression it makes on your audience. Your tone of voice should express your set of values and distinction. (see Brand voice above)


Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – is the unique factor(s) or benefit that differentiates a product/service or brand from its competitors and enables it to stand out. USP is sometimes referred to as Unique Selling Point or Unique Selling Proposition.


Value proposition – the set of qualities of a product or service that allows it to fulfil the customer’s needs and desires, as opposed to simply benefiting the seller.

Viral marketing – is any marketing technique that induces websites or users to pass on marketing messages to other sites or users. Typical techniques include using email messages, jokes, web addresses, film clips and games that get forwarded on electronically by recipients.

Vision – the long-term aims and aspirations of the company for itself.


Waking night – see Overnight care.

Wearable Technology – is a blanket term for electronics that can be worn on the body either as an accessory or as part of clothing. It’s a collection of devices that contain computing power and can be worn by the individual. They often monitor health and fitness and record, or send, the data to the cloud. In adult social care wearable technology can also include Assistive technology and emergency call.

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