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Care at home advice guide for older people

Selected guidance on care at home, home care, domiciliary care, personal care, all elderly care services and other support services which can be delivered in your own home. We will be updating this section periodically.

Basic information on care at home

Many people who find it difficult to manage or who can no longer deal with all their personal care (getting up/going to bed, dressing, bathing, toileting etc), can still remain at home if the right level of care or support can be arranged. People can choose to arrange this for themselves, if they are able and can afford it, but as a starting point, it is usually a good idea to contact the local social services to see what help or advice they can give.

What assistance and services

In addition to organising personal care for those who need it, social services may be able to arrange day care where the person would go to a day centre or other establishment one or more days a week for social interaction or specialist (e.g. dementia) care; a hot meal delivery service, or delivery of frozen ready meals for those who have difficulty preparing food for themselves; or equipment or adaptations. Equipment (e.g. walking aids, grab rails or bathing equipment) can help people to carry out tasks with which they have difficulty and enable them to live more independently. Adaptations are alterations to the home that can make it easier to manage (e.g. widening a doorway to allow wheelchair or walking frame access). Generally social services do not provide help with shopping or housework, but should be able to give information about commercial or voluntary organisations that may be able to help with these tasks.

Role of social service

Social services have a duty to assess the needs of anyone who appears to be in need of the type of assistance they can provide. Each social services authority follows a set of eligibility criteria that is set nationally and is used to decide who qualifies for services. After the needs assessment is carried out there will be a means test to identify whether/how much the person must contribute to the cost of any services to be provided.

Any care identified by the assessment may be arranged by social services, or increasingly, the person themselves may choose to arrange it, through Direct Payments or Personal Budgets which allows them to have greater control over the care and support services that they receive. Local authorities must offer the option of Direct Payments and Personal Budgets to service users who have eligible care needs and are eligible for some financial assistance towards the cost of their care.


Factsheets on care at home

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