What is domiciliary care?

Domiciliary care is care that is provided in the person’s own home.

Sometimes called “care at home” or “home care”, domiciliary care is when a carer either visits you or lives in your own home, in order to be close at hand to support you. Domiciliary care can be appropriate if you require help with practical tasks or personal care but don’t want to move to a care home.

Domiciliary care agencies can help you with a range of daily tasks, including:

  • cooking
  • cleaning and laundry
  • bathing and personal care
  • dressing
  • helping with medication
  • pet care

Because many people prefer to stay in their own home if possible rather than living in a care home, domiciliary care is a popular care option in the UK.  

Types of domiciliary care services

Companionship care

Care can start as informally as someone popping in for a cup of tea and a chat – there is no task too small.  This is called companionship care, and typically involves a social visit, help with shopping, and sometimes cooking and light cleaning.

Housing support

For this type of care, a carer will visit a few times a week to help with opening mail, paying bills, and generally anything that helps you maintain your home. This is an especially useful care option for people with mental health conditions or learning disabilities.  

Domiciliary care with two carers

If you need support getting in and out of bed or walking, many care agencies offer domiciliary care with two carers.

Multiple care visits per day

Many care agencies will offer care with multiple visits per day – for example, a visit to the home in the morning, midday, and before bed.  

Live-in care

Live-in care is a type of domiciliary care where a trained carer moves into your home so that care is available when needed.  This is a good solution if you typically sleep well through the night, as the carer will also be asleep.

24-hour care

If you wake up more than twice a night, 24-hour care is a better option than live-in care.  A live-in carer will sleep when you sleep, while 24-hour care involves a carer staying in your home, awake, while you sleep to assist you when you wake.  

Nursing domiciliary care

If you need support with things like injections, changing or applying dressings, assisting with oxygen or other nursing help, some care agencies can offer you specialty nursing care support.  

Find domiciliary care now

If you need care now, you can find all these types of care using Care Sourcer’s care matching service.

Examples of domiciliary care

Here are a few examples of what domiciliary care can look like in a day-to-day routine.

Example of companionship care

Barbara lives alone in her flat and does her own cooking and cleaning.  She thinks it would be useful for someone to help out with the shopping, as she’s finding it more difficult to get to the supermarket.  

Barbara’s carer visits every Friday to drive her to the shops and help with the heavy items.  She then stays on afterwards to unpack the shopping and have a cup of tea and a chat before leaving again.  

Example of daily care visits to the home

Khalid is 78 and is managing well at home, but is finding that it’s taking longer and longer to get washed and dressed every day.  

Khalid’s carer visits twice a day – first, she visits in the morning to help him get out of bed safely, assists him with showering, then helps him get dressed.  She helps him prepare his breakfast and tidies up the kitchen afterwards. She also double-checks that he’s taken his medication and is set up for the day before she leaves.   

In the evening, she comes back and makes supper if Khalid hasn’t already done it, chats with him and helps lay out his clothes for tomorrow morning.  She helps him into bed then double-checks that all his doors and windows are secure before leaving again.

Example of 24-hour domiciliary care

Geoffrey is 84 and his wife Valerie is 80.  Valerie is Geoffrey’s main carer and is starting to find it difficult as Geoffrey wakes up many times during the night and needs more support during the day.  

Geoffrey’s daytime carer arrives in the morning and and helps Geoffrey get out of bed, shower, and get dressed.  She then makes breakfast for both Geoffrey and Valerie and tidies up while they eat.

During the day, she’s on hand for any of Geoffrey’s needs – for example, going for a walk, going to doctor’s appointments, changing the bed, or helping him to the toilet.  She also makes the meals and any snacks.

In the evening, Geoffrey’s night time carer arrives and the daytime carer leaves.  The nighttime carer helps Geoffrey get ready for bed and then assists him getting into bed.  The nighttime carer assists Geoffrey when he wakes up and gives him reassurance, helping Valerie get her sleep.   

What are the benefits of domiciliary care?  

Receiving care in your own home and community, where you feel safe and comfortable, is a huge benefit for many people. This means that you can maintain your independence in familiar surroundings with peace of mind that you’re always being supported.

Domiciliary care is regulated by the Care Quality Commission in England and the Care Inspectorate in Scotland, and the care package will be tailored to your unique requirements.

How much does domiciliary care cost and who will pay for it?  

Across the UK, the average hourly cost of care at home is £15, according to the Money Advice Service. This works out to £11,000 per year, based on 14 hours of care per week. The amount of funding that you will receive for care and the specific costs will change significantly depending on the country you live in and your specific circumstances.

Care funding in England

Funding for domiciliary care is means-tested in England, which means that the amount of support you will get depends on how much you have in savings and assets (not including the value of your home).  Residents of England should qualify for full support if they own less than £14,250 in savings and assets. This guide details your funding options for domiciliary care in England.  

Care funding in Scotland

Everyone in Scotland over the age of 65 is entitled to free personal care in their home if they are assessed by a social worker as requiring it, however, there can be significant delays to receive this free care.  This guide details what funding is available for domiciliary care in Scotland.  

Care funding in Wales

Social care is not free in Wales, but the Welsh Government caps the amount you may be charged for domiciliary care or home help services. On a weekly basis, local authorities cannot charge you more than £80 for domiciliary care.  This guide details what funding is available for domiciliary care in Wales.  

Care funding in Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, domiciliary care is often provided free of charge to the recipient.  For more details, read our guide to what funding is available for domiciliary care in Northern Ireland.  

How do I find a domiciliary care agency?

Domiciliary care is provided by regulated care agencies.  These agencies employ carers who will visit your home to provide the care.  

Here are the typical steps involved in arranging care if you are paying for it yourself:

  1. Search for domiciliary care agencies
  2. Contact the agencies to find out if they have availability and their prices (if you use Care Sourcer’s care search, the agencies will make an offer instead, saving you significant time ringing multiple agencies)
  3. Arrange a care assessment with the agency or agencies you like
  4. After the assessment, agree the start date of care

What is a care assessment from a care agency?  

Once you have contacted a care provider who can help, they will come into the home to provide a care assessment.  The purpose of the care assessment is to make sure that they can safely deliver the care you need, and some agencies will call this a “risk assessment”.  A typical care assessment will include:

  • Visit and goals: a care manager will visit your home and ask you questions about what you want from your care service and any goals that you have.  For example, you may have the goal that you can go for longer walks, recover from an injury, etc. Your goal could be as simple as staying at home for as long as possible.  
  • Environmental assessment: the care manager will carry out an “environmental assessment” of your home.  This is a simple check to see if any adjustments need to be made to your home to deliver your care.  For example, this might involve rearranging furniture.
  • Basics of visiting: the care manager will confirm how the carer will enter your home, the times of the visit(s), and how the carer will log their visits.
  • Emergency contacts: the care manager will check that they have the correct contact details for you and any family members or friends in case of any emergency.
  • Discussing terms and payment: the care manager will go over their terms of business, how any payments will work, their complaints process, and other terms.
  • Questions: the care assessment is for you to ask questions as well.  Here is a list of questions you may want to ask the care manager during your assessment.

How do I decide which care agency is right for me?

It can be difficult to decide whether a particular care agency is the right one for you. Here are a few guides to help you decide:

  • Ask if you can meet your carer(s).  It’s okay to ask your care agency if you can meet the people who will be visiting your home before any care starts.  
  • Ask the care agency for any testimonials and reviews about their service.  You can also search Google for reviews about the agency.  
  • Review the CQC or Care Inspectorate rating: all care providers will have an official care rating issued by the Care Quality Commission in England or the Care Inspectorate in Scotland. 
  • Talk to each agency about what’s most important to you.  It’s important that you are getting the kind of care that you want, and if you discuss your priorities with each agency, you can get a clearer idea of how exactly they can support you.  

What if I’m not happy with the care that I have received?  

If you’re not happy with the care you have received, your first step should be to work with your care agency to resolve the problem.  

Your care agency should have a formal complaints process that you can follow, with an opportunity to escalate any complaint, and you can call the agency to ask for the details.  Most care agencies will work with you if you want to change the carer, the timings of the care, and other have other problems that need to be addressed.

Generally, don’t let problems build up – it’s okay to raise your concerns at any time and it’s best if you do it early so that you and your care agency can work together to resolve any concerns you have.  

If you still aren’t happy with the level of care that you have received, you can ask to change providers.  This is often called a “re-provision” of care. If the local authority is funding all or part of your care, you will need to tell them that you want to change care agencies.  

If you are paying for the care privately, you can simply search for a new care agency who will better suit your needs.

If you have a serious concern about a care agency’s service or someone’s safety, you can anonymously report an agency to the Care Quality Commission or the Care Inspectorate.  

Looking for a domiciliary care agency?

If you are looking for care, Care Sourcer offers a searchable directory of local care agencies. If you need care urgently, our team of care experts are also available by telephone to guide you through the process.

Find home care in your local area

Use our care search tool or one of our quick links below to find a care home near you.