Could you benefit from home help?
If you’re finding it more 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.
Many older people benefit from finding someone locally that can help with basic household tasks, such as cleaning, laundry, dog-walking, gardening, general home maintenance or simple errands.
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.
Home help or home care?
You might find that this level of support is all that you need if you are starting to slow down or have mobility issues. 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.
Home help is not the same as ‘home care’ though. If you need help with personal care (or may do in the near future), you can arrange for a different type of service where professional carers visit you in your home. Our home care page tells you everything you need to need to know about this type of later life support.
Can the council help with domestic support?
A free needs assessment is the usually the first step to getting support from the council. However, local authorities rarely finance home help services, although some help might be provided as part of your care plan.
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.
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. Age UK offers a paid-for service that helps with day-to-day domestic tasks such as shopping, laundry, housework, meal delivery and collecting prescriptions.
- Private individuals such as cleaners, gardeners or dog walkers can provide help with specific tasks. Which? Trusted Traders assesses and endorses local tradespeople, and offers information on vetting and approving them. It might 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. Read more about day care centres in our guide to respite care.
Finding someone to help with everyday tasks
It’s worth asking around to see if friends can recommend anyone. Look in the local newspaper as domestic helpers might advertise their services there.
Alternatively, you might want to place your own ‘wanted’ ad 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 find our finding and employing private carers article useful for advice on finding a suitable person to work in your home.
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.
If you’re finding it difficult to manage, home care can provide the support you need to stay independent at home.
Guidance on employing personal care assistants, with information about legal issues and financial matters.
Use our step-by-step guide and checklist to help you find the best home care provider for your needs.