Home care services to help you stay in your own home

Money Advice Service

Most of us want to live independent lives in our own homes for as long as possible. The good news is that even if you’re recovering from an illness or a fall, or you need help with your long-term care, there’s a variety of support services available to help you do this.

What is home care or domiciliary care?

Top tip

Home care isn’t for everyone. But frequent visits from carers and a few home modifications can help you retain your home comforts and independence.

Home care (also known as domiciliary care) describes care services that enable people to live in their own homes, which are usually provided by care workers or nurses. Home care can include everything from help with cleaning the house once a week, to visits several times a day to help with washing, dressing and other personal care tasks.

Receiving care in your home is an increasingly common alternative to staying in hospital or moving into a care home.

Not only do you avoid any upheaval and stay in familiar surroundings, it can also be a more economical alternative to residential care.

What home care services are available?

The services that are offered to you will be based on an assessment carried out by your local council’s social services department (or Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland).

It’s called a ‘package of care’ and will be written into your personal care plan.

Services can include help with:

  • Getting out of bed in the morning, washing and dressing
  • Toileting and using continence aids
  • Preparing meals and drinks
  • Help with eating and drinking
  • Picking up prescriptions
  • Giving, or prompting to take, prescribed medication
  • Health-related tasks, as agreed with medical practitioners or community nursing nurses
  • Nursing care from a registered nurse
  • Shopping
  • Collecting pensions
  • Helping with money, managing and paying bills
  • Getting out of the house and meeting friends
  • Supervision and companionship
  • Getting settled for the evening and going to bed

Paying for domiciliary care in your own home

Top tip

If you only need a few hours help a day and your house can be adapted to your needs, care at home might be the most practical and cost-effective solution.

How much you have to pay will depend on:

  • Your health and mobility
  • The value of your assets, and
  • The level of help and support that you require

Your local authority might pay some or all the costs, but you might also have to pay for all the services yourself.

Make sure you claim all the benefits you’re entitled to – Attendance Allowance and Disability Living Allowance (or Personal Independence Payment) are the most common.

How to arrange long-term care at home

Apply for support from your local council, usually the social services department (or Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland).

Before they can help they must carry out an assessment of your care needs.

Even if you will be arranging and paying for the care yourself, it’s still a good idea to have an assessment to help you understand and decide what sort of care and support you need, and what’s available.

After the care needs assessment, you will also have a financial assessment to determine whether you need to pay for your own care, or whether the local council will contribute.

If your local council (or your Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland) agrees to fund some or all of your care services, you’ll be offered the choice of:

  • The council providing the services directly to you
  • Receiving direct payments from the council, and arranging and paying for your care and support services yourself

Funding your own care at home – other things to think about

There are a number of options if you have to pay for your own care at home, including:

  • An immediate needs annuity
  • Downsizing to a smaller home – for example, a bungalow
  • An appropriate equity release scheme (if you’re a homeowner)
  • Insurance policies you or a spouse might have purchased a long time ago
To find out more, read our article ‘Self-funding your long-term care’.

More information about care at home

Did you know?

There are steps you can take if you’re unhappy with the care you’re getting.

Home care, adaptations and equipment in Northern Ireland

If you’re living in Northern Ireland, the nidirect website has a useful section on how to make your home easier to live in.

Read about your home, adaptations and equipment on the nidirect website.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

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