What different types of home care service are there?
If you’re considering getting some kind of healthcare support at home, there are a number of different providers, which broadly fit into the following categories:
- Home care agencies: most home care agencies manage the entire care service and will employ the professional carers. There are some home care agencies that may act solely as an employment agency specialising in introducing carers to be employed by you.
- Non-profit organisations: these include charities such as the Royal Voluntary Service or Age UK. Care services may cost less than through a private agency, although this isn't always the case.
- Private individuals: you can employ one or more individuals to help with various aspects of care. This option is explored in more detail in our article employing private individuals.
- Family/friends/neighbours: it might be possible for your family members to help with some of your personal care, or they may be doing this already. If this is the case, it might be helpful to work out a family rota.
Who can organise my home care?
If you’re self-funding, any of the above options are available to you. Whatever your financial position, your care choices might nevertheless be limited by what’s available in your area.
If you become eligible for care from the local authority following a needs and financial assessment, you will be given a personal budget which states the cost to the local authority of meeting the assessed needs. This will give you three options for how your care is organised.
You can ask your local authority to organise the care on your behalf (but you will still have a right of choice as to who the local authority employs). The majority of local authority care is contracted out to independent, commercial care agencies.
You can choose to accept the personal budget for social care, which should be offered to you in the form of a direct payment. This will give you a greater choice over who cares for you; you can choose to use it to arrange employees from a care agency or to recruit your own personal assistant. For more information on this subject, read our information about personal budgets and direct payments.
A third party (which could be a home care agency) might manage the personal budget on your behalf. This is called an individual service fund.
In Northern Ireland, domiciliary care is free to all who have been assessed by their local authority as needing it. This is regardless of their personal circumstances – so no financial assessment is necessary.
In Scotland, personal care is free to those aged over 65 who have been assessed by their local authority as needing it. This is regardless of their personal circumstances – so no financial assessment is necessary. However, charges still apply to non-personal care services, such as day care, meals and alarms. The Social Care (Self-Directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013 provides a range of new options about how individuals can choose to receive social care services in Scotland.
Care Information Scotland is a useful resource of information about care services for older people living in Scotland.
How to get end of life care at home
If you are arranging home care for someone who is approaching the end of their life, or if you are in this position yourself, there may be additional sources of support at home available.
Your GP can tell you what care and support is available in your area. They may arrange for a community nurse to visit you at home. They may also refer you to a community palliative care team, which can provide some specialist end of life care in your home.
Many hospices offer free care and support at home for eligible patients. There are also various other charities and organisations that provide specialist care and advice to those nearing the end of their life – this can include free nursing care at home.
Read about the pros and cons of end of life care at home, including advice on who to talk to for help.
Many older people are eligible for local authority help with their care. Find out about the needs assessment for care.
Domiciliary care services could allow you to live independently with peace of mind. Read the pros and cons to see if ...
Guidance on employing personal care assistants, with information about legal issues and financial matters.