A homecare worker brings a birthday cake to woman.

Homecare services

As you or your relative get older, you may find that you need some support and assistance in order to continue living independently in your own home. You may also need support, perhaps on a temporary basis, if you have recently been in hospital.

What is homecare?

Homecare services (also known as domiciliary care) provide carers who will help you with personal care. The type of services they offer include:

  • getting out of bed in the morning and getting settled in the evening;
  • helping with washing, using the toilet and dressing;
  • collecting prescriptions and giving medication;
  • providing nursing care (from a registered nurse);
  • preparing meals;
  • collecting pensions; and
  • offering supervision and companionship.

(Please note that the services described here may be different if you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.)

The level and amount of care will depend on your circumstances. Some people will need full-time care from a live­ in carer or from a number of carers who visit at different times. For others, a regular visit once a day or a few times a week may be sufficient.

The Care Needs Assessment

The first step in arranging homecare is to ask your local authority for a Care Needs Assessment. Everyone is entitled to this; it is free of charge and will give a professional assessment of the type of care which will be most appropriate. You can Find your local council on the GOV.UK website. And for information on Getting a care needs assessment, visit the Which? Elderly Care website.

Financing homecare

If the assessment shows that you are in need of care you will also be means tested to see how much you can afford to pay for the service and how much the local authority will pay towards it.

Local authority funding

If the local authority agrees to pay for—or make a contribution towards—the care, it will then allocate a Personal Budget. This is the amount of money the local authority will contribute towards your support.

You can then decide how you receive the payments and what services they will be spent on. Full information about receiving and using the budget is available on the following websites:

NHS funding

There are two types of NHS funding that may apply if you need homecare.

NHS continuing care is available if you have ongoing needs as a result of a disability, accident or illness. Your eligibility for this type of care is not means tested and will be based on an assessment carried out by two or more healthcare professionals. To find out more, visit the Continuing healthcare section of the N HS website.

NHS intermediate care provides free temporary care at home for six weeks following a stay in hospital; it can also enable you to stay at home following an emergency breakdown with existing care services. To find out more, visit the Which? Elderly Care website and see the section on NHS intermediate care and further information.

Funding your own care

If you do not qualify for local authority funding or you want care over and above what the authority has agreed, you will need to pay for this yourself.

The following websites include information on ways of raising the cash to pay for your own care:

Arranging homecare

There are a number of ways in which you can get the care you need to help you live independently:

  • Private homecare agencies may employ carers and will manage them for you in return for a fee. They may also introduce you to a carer who you will employ and pay direct. If you employ a carer directly, you will need to draw up a contract of employment and may be obliged to contribute to a pension.
  • Non­profit organisations offer low­cost or free care services.
  • Family, friends and neighbours may be able to offer you some support on a regular or ad hoc basis.

For more information about arranging Homecare, visit the following websites:

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