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Homecare: How to find the care you need at home

There's help available if you're having trouble with everyday tasks. That could be getting in and out of bed, or cooking and cleaning. This helps is often called homecare, domiciliary care, or sometimes home help.


What kind of homecare support is available?

There are lots of homecare services available, depending on what you need. Your local authority will decide if you're eligible for these services, or for home carers or a personal assistant. The kinds of services available to help you in your own home include:

  • getting in and out of bed
  • bathing and washing
  • preparing meals
  • cleaning
  • fitting equipment and adaptations to your home, such as stairlifts and bath seats
  • going to a day centre

There are many benefits to choosing homecare. Homecare is a lot more flexible, offering different levels of care without long-term commitment.

For example, you may just need help with everyday tasks whilst you are recovering from an illness. When you're feeling better you may not need the extra help.

What support can I get at home?

How to arrange the care you need at home and how Age UK can help.


What's the process?

Arranging homecare ideally starts with getting an assessment of your care needs by your local council.

There’s no charge for this and you’re entitled to one regardless of your income and savings.

After your assessment, your local council will provide a written care plan if you are eligible for support, or will give you advice and information on your other options if you do not meet the criteria for help.

We have a fuller explanation of the care needs assessment, detailing what it includes and the needs that are then eligible for help from social services.

Care needs assessment

"Care makes a huge difference if you need it"

Caroline Abrahams, Age UK Charity Director, talks about the support available if you're arranging care.


Will I have to pay for care services at home?

Most local councils charge for the services they provide in your home. Some place an upper weekly limit on the amount you have to pay.

Before charging you for services, your local council must work out how much you can afford to pay and this amount should leave you with a reasonable level of income.

Check your local council’s website for their charging information


Can I arrange my own homecare?

If you’re assessed as needing community care services you may be able to choose something called direct payments.

These are regular payments paid by the council directly to you or a person you trust and allow you to buy and arrange your own care.

Alongside direct payments, the Government has introduced personal budgets which aim to give people more choice and control over how they arrange and pay for their social care services.

Find out more about personal budgets and direct payments


I only need a little help with housework and gardening. Is there any help available?

Most local councils don’t provide support if you just need a helping hand with your housework, gardening or shopping.

Contact a local voluntary organisation such as your local Age UK or the Royal Voluntary Service to see whether they may be able to provide services for you.

It may still be a good idea to get an assessment by your local council to discuss your options, even if they are not able to help with these tasks.

We're here to help

We offer support through our free advice line on 0800 055 6112. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. We also have specialist advisers at over 140 local Age UKs.


Where should I look for help if I'm arranging homecare myself?

You can get help with things such as cleaning, shopping and personal care through private agencies. These agencies must be registered with the Care Quality Commission.

  • The UK Home Care Association can give you details of home care providers that follow its code of practice.
  • Your local adult social services department should be able to provide you with details of approved private agencies.
  • Ask friends or relatives for recommendations.

What should I do next?

However you intend to pay for your care and the type you get, it's important to arrange that assessment of needs.

What it does is put in black and white your situation at a certain time. You can then be reassessed later to see if anything has changed.

Contact your local council

Get in touch with your local council's adult social services department


Further information

If you've already had or arranged your needs assessment, here are some other steps you can take.

Please help us be there for older people in need

We help millions of older people every year with expert advice, a wide range of services and much-needed companionship.

But we need your help to continue being there when we’re needed most.

By donating today, you could help us answer more calls to our Advice Line, campaign harder for older people’s rights and fair treatment and provide regular friendship calls to people who are desperately lonely. Your support can make all the difference to an older person in need.

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Last updated: Jul 31 2018

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