Easy read glossary

NHS England uses some difficult words to describe the work we are doing for people with a learning disability, autism or both. To help with this we have developed a glossary or list to help you find out about those words quickly.  We worked with a self-advocacy who helped by checking all of the words and pictures for us.

The list can be used in two different ways

  • For people with a learning disability involved in our work to be able to look up and understand the difficult words we use at NHS England
  • For NHS staff to be able to find easy ways to describe the work that they do, encouraging them to use more easy read pictures.

We plan to update the glossary every few months so if you have any words you would like adding please email engage@nhs.net us or call us on 0113 8249686.


Information that is easy to understand.






A word made up of the first letters of a few words. e.g. GP is short for general practice – your local doctor.

Advocates support people to speak up. Or they can speak for someone.






Alert cards can be carried by people in their wallets with information about what would help them (a bit like a hospital passport).

A health check that happens once a year with your doctor. A good way of finding an illness as quick as possible.

Information collected about people who are in a mental health hospital like an assessment and treatment unit.

The information tells us how many people are in hospital and how long they have been there.

ATUs are assessment and treatment units. These are hospitals that people with a learning disability or autistic people might go to if they have a mental health problem or behaviour that is described as challenging.

Autistic people think differently to other people. It affects how people interact with other people.


A baseline is the starting point of something. Knowing the baseline means you can see how things have changed.

People who are from a different ethnic background to the majority of people in a country.

In Britain there is a majority of people who are white classed as white British. Some people can be black or Asian this is classed as Black or Asian British.

This is when someone acts in a way that could hurt themselves or someone else.

It may be hard for them to go out and about.

It can sometimes be caused by difficulty communicating what they need.

Read more about the NICE guidance on behaviour that can be challenging.

A plan about providing better support for people with a learning disability, autism or both who have a mental health problem or behaviour which can challenge services.


A process that makes sure people get the right care when they might need to go to a hospital called an assessment and treatment unit or are in an assessment and treatment unit.

A care and treatment review focuses on four areas:

  • Is the person safe?
  • Do they have a person centred plan in place?
  • Are they getting good care?
  • Can their treatment and care be done in the local community?

Find out more about care and treatment reviews

Checks up on the care provided in care homes, hospitals, social care and GP surgeries.

This is when someone acts in a way that could hurt themselves or someone else.

It may be hard for them to go out and about.

It is sometimes caused by difficulty communicating what they need.

Read more about the NICE guidance on behaviour that can be challenging

Services that are provided by the NHS for children and young people up to the age of 18 who need support with their emotions, their behaviour or their mental health.

The transforming care programme works with people of all ages this includes children and young people.

Transforming care partnerships may do work that is focused just on children and young people – that is people under 25 years old.

More information about work to support children and young people with mental health issues or behaviour that can challenge services.

A group of GP practices in a local area that work together and plan and design services.

Each Clinical Commissioning Group gets a yearly budget from NHS England.

They also work with local council and community group to ensure everyone needs are meet.

Commissioners are people who plan and pay for services.

If you think something is bad about a service you can make a complaint.

This is a formal process. The service will have a complaints policy to deal with your complaint.

This policy says how an organisation will handle complaints.

The way that organisations deal with complaints.

Something that is not to be told to other people.

Co-production means bringing together people who deliver services and people who use services as equals.

They work together to make the services better for everyone.

Read more about coproduction in Transforming Care

A council is an organisation which is responsible for local public services like schools, housing, social care and bin collections. They are also called local authorities.

The organisations that deal with people who break the law. It includes the police, prisons, youth offenders and courts.


A report that says how someone with a learning disability has died.

Difficulty swallowing.


A test that looks at your heart to make sure it is working well.

Where children and young people are taught.

This can be at school, college or at home.

A plan for a child or young person up to the age of 25 if they have a disability or special education needs (SEN).

The plan says what extra support each person can have to help them stay healthy and have a good education.

People having the power to do something.

Being strong and in control of your life.

People are able to make choices about their own life – to live in their own home.

A health condition that affects the brain and causes seizures.

People are able to make choices about their own life – to liveTraining to help parents understand health, care and education systems, so that they can get the best care for their disabled child.in their own home.

You can tell someone what you thought of their service.

Staff might also ask you what you think about something.

This could be a health service asking if you thought it was good or bad.

A flag will be is a note on a person’s computer heath record.

It will tell health staff they need to do things differently – to make reasonable adjustments.

This doesn’t happen yet. It is something NHS England is working on.


Your local doctor.

It is where you go for check ups.


A way of helping someone with communication difficulties or a learning disability communicate what they need when they are in hospital.

It is a document that gives information to hospital staff about the person, including their likes and dislikes, interests, and other things. Many hospitals have their own version for you to fill in if you have a hospital stay coming up.

People who work together to improve housing. This includes people who plan and pay for services (commissioners) and housing providers.

Find out more about the housing learning and improvement network for learning disability.


A person who knows a lot about the Mental Capacity Act and people’s rights.

They represent people who don’t have the capacity to consent to make specific decisions, such as if they should move to a different home or agree to medical treatment.

Hospitals that people with a learning disability, autism or both might go to when they have poor mental health or show behaviour that is challenging.

These are sometimes called assessment and treatment units or ATUs.

This is when personal budgets and personal health budgets are put together to make one big integrated budget that the person can spend on services to keep them well and independent.

Looking at all the facts of a problem.


A learning disability affects how someone understands and remembers information. It is different from person to person.

Some people may need more time to understand information. Other people need more support.

People with a learning disability are people first.

We should not refer to people as ‘LD’. People are not acronyms!


This programme plans to make the lives of people with a learning disability better by learning from how people with a learning disability have died.

Read about the LeDeR programme in easy read.

A local authority is an organisation which is responsible for local public services like schools, housing, social care and bin collections. Also called councils.

An organisation which brings together all of the local councils around the country.

They aim to help councils improve the lives of people for example with better social care.


This is a drug or a medicine that you are given to help you feel better.

Some people with a learning disability, autism or both are wrongly given medication because someone thinks they have challenging behaviour.

A law about how to decide if someone can make a decision or choice at a certain time.

It is designed to protect people who are unable to make decisions about their own care and support.


NHS England makes big decisions about health care in England.

It pays other organisations to give health care.

Watch an accessible video about NHS England.

An organisation that looks at what works in health and social care.

They write guidance about how services should work.

Read NICE’s easy read explanation of what they do.


Personalisation is about people having choice and control in their life.

It is about having the person at the centre of their life – person centred support.

More information in easy read about personalisation.

Each person should have a plan about how they want to be supported to live their life.

The plan should be written in a way that makes sense to that person.

Money that someone gets from the council to pay for social care support.

It allows them to choose what service they want.

A personal health budget is money from the NHS to help someone choose and pay for their own services.

Link to more information about personal health budgets.

Where different organisations put their money together to make a new, bigger budget.

This could be NHS money (from CCGs or NHS England) with local authority money.

An organisation that provides health services or social care to support people to live their lives.

A drug that affects the way your brain works to change your behaviour, mood or the way you think about things.

Some people with a learning disability, autism or both are wrongly given psychotropic medication because someone thinks they have challenging behaviour.

Link to work NHS England is doing to stop people having too much medicine.


People who check health services to make sure they are good for people with a learning disability. These are health services like hospitals and GP practices.

Quality checkers are experts by experience. They use their experience to say what is good and what needs to change about the service.


Changes that are needed to make things accessible for disabled people. This could be changes to your GP practice or hospital.

This could be things like making it easier to get into a building. It could be getting your information in a different format like easy read. It is what you need to make your healthcare work for you.

There are things you should expect in different bits of life. These are your rights.

For example you should be treated fairly.

Some rights are protected by law. This means nobody should ignore your rights.

More information about human rights.


Something that happens in someone’s brain that makes them shake or they might fall and black out.

This might be called a fit.

People with epilepsy sometimes have seizures.

Organisations that provide social care.

STOMP is a project to stop the over use of psychotropic medicines.

Read more information about STOMP in easy read.

Information about you which is shared between health services. This is useful when you have an emergency or are away from home.

It has things like what medicines you take and if you have allergies. It is like a short hospital passport on doctors computers

You can add things to your summary care record so it will tell new doctors about how you like people to talk with you or give you information.


Aims for Transforming Care Partnerships.

This is usually an aim to reduce the number of people staying in assessment and treatment units for a long time.

A national programme which aims to get people moved from long stay hospitals or assessment treatment units to the community with loved ones.

We are working to a plan called Building the right support.

Groups that work together to plan care for people in their area who have a learning disability, autism or both who may also have a mental health problem or behaviour that challenges.

They aim to bring care closer to people’s homes rather than people living in hospitals. TCPs include the NHS, councils and people and their families.

Find out more about Transforming Care Partnerships.

Plans each Transforming Care Partnerships have written to set out what they’re going to do also what they are going to do to improve the life of people with a learning disability, autism or both.