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Nursing Care Glossary

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)

This describes day-to-day functions that people do without help, such as:

  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Grooming
  • Eating
  • Bed mobility
  • Transferring
  • Toileting
  • Walking

Home care assessment to establishment the level of assistance needed is based on the patient's ability to perform a certain number of ADLs. In addition, many insurance policies determine eligibility for benefits on the ability of the patient to carry out these tasks.

Acute Care

The term is used for Medicare coverage and applies to situations where a patient is expected to recover and resume living a "normal" lifestyle. Although patients may not function at the same level as before the onset of the condition, they do not need help from others to perform their usual daily activities.

Advanced Care Planning

The BC health care community considers Advanced Care Planning as part of the best practices for senior care. It is the process of seniors researching, discussing and formally documenting their health care options as well as preferences and values with their families while they are still capable. For details on how to prepare this information, you may download the Advanced Care Planning guide document called Expressing Your Wishes.

In British Columbia the advanced care plan document does not have to be signed by a lawyer.


To move about; to walk.


This is a communication disorder that usually occurs when the language part of the brain is damaged. It can result in the inability to express oneself or to understand when spoken to. The condition can occur after a stroke, especially in seniors.


People with this condition may find it difficult to do simple tasks such as winking, licking their lips or moving their arms and legs intentionally.

Case Management

Case management helps clients and families to determine and assess the health care services needed, putting these together in a comprehensive care plan. In addition to arranging services, your plan is also adjusted as your care needs change.

Evergreen Nursing Vancouver offers Case Management as part of its services. Your Evergreen RN case manager helps you to find and provide the best care and support for your loved one by creating a comprehensive care plan; liaising with the medical team; and providing references for complementary services such as physiotherapy and nutrition. (For further details, visit the How Does Evergreen Vancouver Home Care Work page.)

You may be also interested in the Accessing Home and Community Care webpage of the Vancouver Coastal Health Website or the Home and Community Care webpage of the Fraser Health website.

Cognitive Impairment

Cognitive impairment, which includes Alzheimer's and other types of dementia, includes short-term or long-term memory loss and the ability to reason. Cognitive impairment is diagnosed when a person has become so disoriented as to not recognize people, places or time, thereby requiring substantial supervision.

Foley Catheter

An inserted tube that drains urine from the bladder and into a plastic pouch.


The treatment of diseases connected to aging and the branch of medicine that focuses on elderly health care.

GI Tube

Used to assist people who cannot eat normally, GI tubes are inserted surgically through an opening in the stomach to provide sustenance.

Hospice/Palliative Care

Hospice/palliative care emphasizes comfort, counseling as well as physical and spiritual support for patients with life-threatening diseases or injuries and their families. Treatment is provided to relieve pain and suffering rather than providing a cure.

Hospice care can be provided at home by health professionals, in nursing facilities or acute care settings.

For more information, visit the Palliative Care page of the BC Government website or the In-home Palliative Nursing Care page of Evergreen Vancouver.


The inability to partially or wholly control bladder and bowel functions.

Pressure Ulcers

Also called pressure sores or decubitis ulcers, pressure ulcers are especially problematic for older, bed-ridden patients. Turning the patient every two hours helps to prevent or alleviate the condition.

Representation Agreement

This is a legally binding document to appoint one or more persons to make decisions concerning your care issues in case you become incapable of making those decisions.

Creating a Representation Agreement is a key part of Advanced Care Planning it allows seniors to rest assured that decisions are made on their behalf by people they trust. It also makes the communication between health care providers, families and caregivers more efficient.
The appointed representatives are often family members but cannot be paid members of the health care team. The Agreement does not have to be signed by a lawyer.

For more details about the Representation Agreement, you may download the Representation Agreement guide by the Vancouver-based non-profit organization Nidus.

Respite Care

Respite care can be provided at home, in facilities such as adult day care centres, as part of special respite programs or in overnight facilities. Respite care becomes necessary when the regular caregivers who look after people with disabilities, illnesses, dementia or other health problems take a break from these responsibilities.