In later life, many of us need some extra help in the form of paid care. If you think that you or someone you know might need care, it can be difficult to know where to start looking, or what your options are.

This article gives you some starting points for thinking about care for an older person.

Types of care services

The most common types of care available are:

  • Residential care home
  • Nursing care home
  • Domiciliary care (care at home)
  • Live-in care
  • Respite

Sometimes people worry that accepting care means they will have to move out of their own home. While residential care homes and nursing homes are probably the best known form of care, other options are available depending on the needs of the person.

Help with daily living tasks such as shopping or cooking, helping with getting up and dressed, or companionship can often be provided in your own home (known as hourly care, domiciliary care, or care at home).

If round-the-clock care is needed, a live-in carer within your own home is also an option.

Finally, respite care can provide an unpaid carer with some time away from their responsibilities. Sometimes respite care is also a period of rehabilitation after a hospital admission or operation.  

Care needs assessments

The first step is to ask for a care needs assessment from the adult social services department of your local council (you can find your local council here). 

A care needs assessment is an evaluation of an individual care needs. There is no cost for a care needs assessment.

You can ask for a care needs assessment on behalf of someone else, but that person must agree to the assessment.

A care needs assessment may be carried out online, over the telephone, or face to face. You will be asked about how you are managing with everyday tasks, if you have any physical difficulties and what support you need. 

How long do I need to wait for a care assessment?

  • If there’s no urgent medical condition necessitating the assessment, be prepared to potentially wait a few weeks before receiving a needs assessment
  • If the situation is urgent in nature, the assessment may be fast-tracked to take place within days
  • Once the assessment is completed, you will usually get the results within a week. The results will include recommendations about whether care is needed. If it is, a further financial assessment will be arranged for you to see if the local council will pay towards the care.

More information about booking a care needs assessment

However, you don’t need to wait for a care assessment if you are prepared to pay for the care yourself. You can directly contact care providers who will meet with you and carry out their own assessment to understand your care needs.

Who to speak to about care

If you need care, there are several routes you can take to find a care provider to help you. Here are some places to start: