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Most of us want to live independently in our own homes for as long as possible, but as we get older we may need some support and assistance.
You may need help with personal care, such as getting in and out of bed, washing and bathing, preparing meals, shopping or cleaning. However, you may not be sure what kind of support is available or where to find it.
You might be fortunate enough to have a partner, family member or friend who provides the care you need. In this case, your carer may also need support. For more information, see the section Advice for carers.
Otherwise, you might need help from a paid carer, and you may need financial support from the council to afford this.
There are many types of support that you might be entitled to. For example, if you have difficulty cooking for yourself, you might be able to receive meals on wheels, or if you have difficulty with personal care tasks you might need someone to call round twice a day to help you to wash and to change your clothes.
The first step is to contact your local council’s social services department for an assessment of your needs. You should not be charged for this. A social care assessment will usually take place in your home.
Before the assessment, write down a list of all the difficulties you face, however small, and be ready to discuss them. If you’re not sure whether you should have an assessment, talk to your GP first.
The person assessing you should take into account the emotional and social side of your life as well as any physical difficulties you might have. Following the assessment, a care plan will be agreed and written out. Your carer is also entitled to an assessment.
For more information, download the factsheet Local authority assessment for community care services
For more information on how to find and pay for help in the home, go to How to find the help you need at home and Paying for care and support at home.
If your needs at home increase, ask your local authority for a review of your needs to see if it can provide you with any other services.
The help you need with your house and garden might not be covered by your local authority, but there are voluntary organisations that provide these services. For more information, visit Finding help at home.
If you have mobility issues, you may need to be visited by a district nurse or health visitor. There is no charge for this. Contact NHS Direct to find out more about NHS service.
Download the guide: Care at home (PDF 759 KB)
Download the factsheet: LA assessment for community care services (PDF 337 KB)
Download the factsheet: Finding help at home (PDF 246 KB)
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