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How to find the help you need at home

There’s a wide range of help available and you may be legally entitled to services to meet your needs. You may need help with personal care, such as getting in and out of bed, washing and bathing, preparing meals, shopping or cleaning.

What kind of support is available?

There’s a wide range of help available and you may be legally entitled to services to meet your needs, although many of these are means-tested. You may also be eligible for home carers or a personal assistant to help you. The kinds of services available to help you stay 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

What's the process?

Arranging care is a complex process that ideally starts with getting an assessment of your care needs by your local authority. 

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

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.

Read full details on the care needs assessment 

Will I have to pay for care services at home?

Most local councils charge for the services at home they provide. 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 care?

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.

Find out what home help support your local Age UK offers


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Where should I look for help if I'm arranging care 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.

Employing a carer

If you want to employ a care worker directly, you must draw up a contract of employment so that you are both clear on what is expected. Be aware of financial considerations such as National Insurance contributions.

Find out more about directly employing a carer from the HMRC

New pension rules mean that if you employ your own carer using either your own money or money from your Direct Payment, you may now be legally obliged to contribute towards a pension for them.

You may need to take this into account if you decide to hire a carer or carers directly and you pay them more than £768 every four weeks (£10,000 per year). If you use a payroll service they may help you with these new duties.

Take a look at The Pensions Regulator’s Duties checker for more help

For more information about your responsibilities as an employer towards your carer, contact The Pensions Regulator on 0345 600 1011.

What should I do next?

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

Even though getting any money from a local council to pay for care is becoming more difficult, it's a useful assessment to go through.

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 authority's social services department

Further information

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

A small favour

All the information and advice we provide on the website is free and completely independent, as is our Advice Line that is open 365 days a year.

But demand is going up. We are an ageing population and more people than ever are coming to us for support, which is why we need to ask for help.

If you are able to, just a small gift today could help us reach even more older people wherever the need is greatest.

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Age NI Advice Service

Every year our Advice Service deals with thousands of calls from older people in need. Call us today to make sure that you are receiving all the help and support available to you.

Call freephone 0808 808 7575
8am – 7pm 365 days a year


Last updated: Sep 11 2018

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