How can home care help me?
If you’re finding it difficult to manage day-to-day chores such as shopping, housework and gardening, it might be time to consider home help or other domestic services that can offer assistance.
Getting domestic or household help can enable you to stay in your home for longer, and might prevent or delay the need to move into sheltered housing or other accommodation. Following the needs assessment, local authorities rarely finance home help services, although some help might be provided as part of your care plan.
Before choosing a form of home help, sit down with a family member or friend to think about the following:
- What tasks do you need help with?
- How many hours a week will you need help for?
- How often would you like someone to come in?
- Do you need temporary help (just for a few weeks/months) or a permanent helper?
- How much are you willing and able to pay?
It might be that you need different people to carry out different specific tasks - someone to clean the house, a handyperson, a gardener to mow the lawn or a dog walker, for example.
What local authority support is there?
Only a few local authorities provide home help services, and these tend to be limited.
Each local council has its own arrangements to supply meals to people who have no other way of getting them. Some councils run their own meals-on-wheels service, while others use a commercial company to deliver frozen meals and provide a small freezer, microwave or steamer for heating them.
Most authorities have eligibility criteria for supplying this service, but where they are available, costs are usually between £3 and £6 a meal.
To find out which local authority services are available in your area, use the link below to find your local authority website via gov.uk.
What other help is available?
Independent businesses and agencies: provide a wider range of home help and other domestic support services. Check your local papers or Yell.com to find agencies that offer specific helpers, such as a cleaning agency for housework and businesses that deliver prepared meals in your area.
Non-profit organisations: it’s worth contacting local branches of charities such as Age UK and the Royal Voluntary Service to ask what they can offer in your area. There will probably be a charge for most services.
- Private individuals such as cleaners, gardeners or dog walkers can provide help with specific tasks. You may also privately employ an individual as a personal assistant to look after your needs. Which? Trusted Traders assesses and endorses local tradespeople, and offers information on vetting and approving them. It might be also be possible for family members or friends to help you with some tasks.
- Day care centres: if you’re looking for more opportunities to socialise and get out of your home, then a day-care centre may be worth exploring. These centres offer meals and social activities for older people during the day, with transport to and from the centre usually provided. This can also be a good option if a family member is your main carer and needs some respite. You can read more about day care centres in our guide to respite care.
Homeshare is an international charity helping older people to stay in their homes for longer. It offers a simple way for people to help each other by connecting two people with different sets of needs, both of whom also have something to offer each other:
- The householder: who has a home they’re willing to share, but who also needs help and support.
- The homesharer: who needs accommodation and is willing to give some help in exchange for somewhere to stay.
Homeshare helps to connect these two people. The householder gets the help, support and security that they need, and the homesharer has a rent-free place to call home. Both people and their families benefit from the arrangement, and the costs are very low.
There are more than 20 Homeshare programmes across the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Visit the Homeshare website for more information.
Finding a personal assistant
It’s worth asking around to see if friends can recommend anyone. Look in the local newspaper as personal assistants might advertise their services there.
Alternatively, you might want to place your own ‘wanted’ ad for a personal assistant in a newspaper or shop window. Never include your full name, address or postcode. It’s advisable to use a PO box number or advertisement number if you can, so that your personal details aren’t made public.
You can also think about online job advertising on websites such as Universal Jobmatch, which is a government scheme to help employers, including individual employers, advertise their vacancies. You may need to choose the job title carefully. For example, ‘personal care assistant’ is better than ‘personal assistant’, which is associated with office work.
Guidance on employing personal care assistants, with information about legal issues and financial matters.
Questions to ask when hiring a personal care assistant or home help to provide care in later life.
If you’re searching for care at home, our step-by-step guide helps you decide how to get the best help for your needs.