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in home care costs Scotland

Personal care at home is provided free of charge in Scotland, for people aged 65 or over, who are assessed as requiring personal care support.

Care at home (also known as in-home care, home care, or domiciliary care) is when a carer will come to your home for a set period of time or even a few times throughout the day (commonly as a ‘visit’). 

The carer will be able to support with any daily living task(s) you may need assistance with, such as cooking and cleaning, or taking medicine. 

The good news is that care at home costs in Scotland can be funded by the local council, if you’re aged 65 or over and qualify by need.

To find out whether you qualify, you should first arrange a care needs assessment through your local council (you can find your local council here). The needs assessment will evaluate your day-to-day support requirements, and determine whether your needs can be supported within your own home, or whether a 24/7 care home environment is required.

This bit is particularly important: Regardless of your financial status, you should always arrange a care needs assessment through your council’s social work department before contracting with any care at home service providers. Not doing so could mean you lose out on care at home funding in Scotland.

Local authority funding and benefits for care in your own home

Everyone in Scotland over the age of 65 is entitled to free personal care if they are assessed as requiring it. To determine if you qualify for local council funding, a social worker will assess you for:

  • Personal hygiene
  • Continence management
  • Food and diet
  • Immobility problems
  • Counselling and support
  • Simple medical treatments
  • Personal assistance
  • Meal preparation support

A social worker will determine whether you need personal care, and whether it can be delivered at home. If you do require a care at home package, you can select your preferred care provider. 

Free personal care in Scotland does not necessarily apply to all domestic activities, however. For example, you may be charged for support with:

  • Housework
  • Laundry
  • Shopping
  • Services outside your home (i.e. day care centres or lunch clubs)
  • The cost of supplying food or pre-prepared meals

You’ll also be eligible for Attendance Allowance if you qualify for free personal care at home in Scotland. Attendance Allowance helps offset extra costs you may incur if you have a severe disability that requires someone to help look after you (although you don’t need to have a carer in order to claim). If you are 65 or older, and have a disability related to physical or mental health, you may qualify for Attendance Allowance.

Is nursing care free in Scotland?

People in Scotland of any age can access free nursing care, as long as you’ve been assessed as requiring nursing care support.

Depending on the outcome of your care needs assessment, nursing care can sometimes be provided in-home. When this is possible, nursing care at home can be a welcome alternative to moving into a care home.

When nursing care is provided at home, district or community nurses tend to be allocated through your local GP. If you have a more complex or ongoing need for nursing care, you may be advised to apply to a nursing care home. Learn more about local authority funded nursing care in a care home setting. 

How much does care at home cost in Scotland?

In Scotland the average price of care at home is £16.54 (source: UKHCA Minimum Price for Homecare 2018).

This includes help with:

  • washing and dressing
  • getting in and out of bed
  • taking medication
  • meal preparation 

Making the most of care at home funding in Scotland

When applying for a personal care package in Scotland, one of the most important things you can do is nurture the relationship with your social worker. This person may be able to exercise discretion in how many hours of funded personal care you can receive. Your social worker may also be able to arrange support with some of the care areas that aren’t automatically provided for, such as shopping, laundry or housework.

Entitlement to free care at home, which reduces the burden of care costs, is unique to Scotland. Across the border, you’ll find that local authority funding for care in your own home is means-based in England.

It’s also quite different from applying for funding to cover care home fees in Scotland. In that context, a means-based test is applied, making funding harder to come by. During your care needs assessment, you’ll get to talk with a team of health professionals about which setting is most appropriate for your needs.


Do you pay for in-home nursing in Scotland?
People in Scotland, of any age, can access free nursing care, as long as you’ve been assessed as requiring nursing care support – this is generally allocated through your local GP.

Is home care free in Scotland?
Care at home can be funded by your local council if you’re aged 65 or over, and you qualify by need.To find out if you qualify you need, contact your local council for a care needs assessment.

How much does home care cost in Scotland?
In Scotland, the average price of care at home is £16.54 (source: UKHCA Minimum Price for Homecare 2018). This works out to £12,000 per year, based on 14 hours of care per week. 

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