Care you can get at home

Last updated: 15 June 2017

If you need help living at home you can get support from:

  • your local council
  • a private home care business - this will often cost more than help given by your local council

Your local council

If you want support from your local council, they'll need to visit your home to work out how they can help you.

Your GP, district nurse or health visitor can arrange this for you. To arrange a visit yourself, contact your local council's social work department:

Your council might have a waiting list for these visits. Let the social work department know if you need urgent help.

Your home visit

During your visit your local council will tell you more about what help you can get.

Your local council will also work out whether any help you get will be free or whether you'll need to pay towards its costs.

Not all types of help your local council gives will have a charge, but if it does they'll need to do a 'financial assessment'.

The purpose of the local council visit is to help make sure you get the help you need, but only if it's help you want. It is against the law to force you to do something you don't want to.

Your financial assessment

Your local council will look at your income and savings to decide whether you can afford to pay towards any help you get.

Your local council can explain all costs to you - if, or how much, you'll pay depends on the exact help you need, and how much money you have.

If you disagree with the amount you're asked to pay, you can ask for a review by speaking to your local council's social work department.

You can refuse to have a financial assessment, but this means that if you choose to get help from your local council you'll have to pay its full cost.

65 or over

If you're 65 or over, 'personal care' given by your local council is free. It doesn't matter how much money you have.

'Personal care' includes things like a nurse helping you wash or dress, or help getting you in and out of bed. Your local council can tell you more about what counts as personal care.

After your visit

After the visit your local council's social work department will write to you to confirm the details of what help they can give, and how much it will cost. They'll also tell you who will provide the help you need.

Providers of home care can include:

  • your social work department
  • a home care agency used by your local council

If you want more choice

You have a right to have more choice over what help you can get by taking 'self-directed support'. This means your local council tells you how much money there is to spend on your help and you choose how to spend it.

You can choose to get paid the money and spend it on the help you need yourself, or tell your council how it should be spent. You can also choose a mix of these.

If you want to know more about self-directed support, speak to your local council's social work department during your visit.

Private home care

You can contact a business that provides help at home if you prefer.

The Care Inspectorate has a list of services that provide home care. These are checked by the Care Inspectorate to make sure they meet good standards. You can also look at the Care Inspectorate's website for a report on any of these services.

Even if you decide to find and pay for your own private home care, you may still wish to get a financial assessment of your care needs done by your local council. This means you'll get any advice or extra money from the government that the law says you should get.

Types of help you can get at home

  • cleaning, heavy housework and looking after your garden
  • dressing and washing
  • getting your shopping
  • 'meals on wheels' or frozen meals delivery
  • someone picking up your pension or any medicines you need
  • sorting out bills
  • laundry – this includes washing and ironing in your home
  • things for your home, like special chairs or shower rails, to make living at home easier
  • setting up a mobile phone for simple health checks, such as taking your blood pressure – this is known as 'telehealthcare'

You can ask your local pharmacy to send your medicines to your home if you find it hard to pick them up.

Coming out of hospital

If you're discharged from hospital, you might get free home care from your local council's social work department for up to 28 days.

Find out more about coming out of hospital.