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Domiciliary care for the elderly

Domiciliary care is provided for those who need a little extra help but may not require full-time support, and can help to keep people in their home for longer. Carers can help with things such as personal care, as well as day-to-day errands.

Domiciliary carer giving an elderly man his lunch on a tray

Quick summary

  • Domiciliary care, or visiting care, might be one of the first options people consider for care at home.
  • It involves a carer paying visits to the home throughout the day, to help with personal care and meal preparation – among other things.
  • This type of care is often chosen as it allows people to stay in their home for longer, when they don’t have complex care needs.

Domiciliary care is often called other names like hourly care or visiting care – but it’s essentially the same thing. A carer will visit a few hours a day, to provide companionship, personal care, and support with day to day tasks. If you think your loved one needs care, this is an option to consider for care at home.

This type of care at home is often chosen as it allows people to stay in their home even when their care needs begin to increase – although it’s not suitable for everyone.

What is domiciliary care?

Domiciliary care can be considered to be ‘traditional’ home care. It involves a carer paying visits to a care recipient at certain times in the day to carry out specific tasks such as personal care assistance or meal preparation.

Usually, domiciliary care would be recommended if your loved one is unable to manage completely independently but doesn’t need full-time help yet. Carers can come into the home for any time between 15 minutes to a couple of hours – providing support with things from getting out of bed to eating.

Who is domiciliary care for?

Every person is different, and so will require different levels of care and support especially as they age. Domiciliary care may not be suitable for everyone, but for some it offers the right balance between care and independence.

It’s most suitable for those with less acute conditions, such as early-stage dementia where support is only needed at a minimal level. Or, in situations where families are able to offer a certain level of support.

For people with complex conditions and those who require a greater level of care and support, domiciliary care may not be appropriate.

For example, as dementia progresses domiciliary care may not provide the same continuity in care and routine that’s required. In some cases, there may be missed visits, a regular change in schedule or carers.

Where there isn’t enough support provided or care needs become more advanced, there are other options such as live-in care.

Live-in care offers around the clock support, with the same caregiver – providing an alternative solution for people with advancing care needs. 

A domiciliary carer giving a happy elderly lady a tray of food

How to arrange domiciliary care

As with any type of care, there are different ways to organise it. You could start by looking into privately arranging domiciliary care – where you hire the carer directly yourself – but this comes with its own issues surrounding employment, sick pay, tax and family tensions.

Generally, however, you want to start with a care needs assessment. You can get one by contacting your local authority – who can either come to the home, or make an appointment at a community hub. This will cover different care requirements and an assessment of the support a person needs.

At the end of the assessment, you’ll be directed on how to arrange care or support.

Domiciliary care can be sourced through local councils and dedicated agencies, so it’s possible to organise a dedicated and tailored care plan. If you or your loved one has specific thoughts on the type of care they want, it’s important that they speak up.

Families have a right to a voice in the type of care their loved one receives. Make sure to vocalise the desire for care at home – whether this be domiciliary care or live-in care with an agency such as Elder.

Sometimes the assessment may not lead to a direct recommendation of care or support services, but your assessor will give you advice on next steps. If care is recommended you can then look into securing funding if necessary. For this, a person will undergo a financial assessment.

Advantages and disadvantages of domiciliary care

The benefits of domiciliary care will depend on the level of care required and individual circumstances. For others, live-in care may be more appropriate, or maybe a natural progression between the two.

Type of careAdvantagesDisadvantages
Domiciliary care– The person remains at home
– Medication support is available
– Personal care support is provided
– Alleviates some strain on family members
– The carer may differ each time
– Not suitable for nursing care needs
– The carer may be stretched for time as they are visiting others
– Care is not available around the clock
– Support may not be available when it’s needed most
Live-in care– People can stay at home and retain independence
– Activities, meals and routines are personalised
– Support is provided around the clock
– Complex care needs are catered for
– Range of funding options
– Often thought to be an expensive option
– Not suitable for nursing care
– A new person moves into the home
– Home adaptations may be needed

Both domiciliary care and live-in care can be appropriate at different stages – it depends on the individual circumstances and needs of the family.

How much does domiciliary care cost?

Professional care at home is usually charged per hour. This can range from £10 to £30 during the day and more for care at night. Costs may be higher on bank holidays and weekends. Depending on how often the care is needed, this can add up to become a large cost.

Domiciliary care often requires some home modifications, which usually comes at a cost to the family. These modifications could include moving beds downstairs, installing stairlifts and alarm systems.


Elsie’s care journey

Elsie had been living with osteoarthritis for some years, but she recently noticed her mobility was declining rapidly. She began to find day to day tasks such as washing dishes and unpacking shopping difficult. Her sons started to worry that she was no longer able to cope independently. So, they decided it was time to consider additional help.

Through domiciliary care, Elsie has been receiving home visits twice a day for an hour each time, Monday through to Friday. Her carer does however vary on each visit.

Elsie’s carer helps with things like personal care, cleaning and cooking. Sometimes, she requires night visits, costing up to £100. This service works out at £800 to £1000 monthly for her family.

In addition, Elsie has also had to have adjustments made to her home. A stairlift has been installed which can be priced anything from £1000 to £3000. Elsie’s family decided these improvements were more than justified, and they help her to continue to live a fulfilled life.

While it’s often a worthwhile cost to ensure your loved one is safe and the family has peace of mind – there are funding options for domiciliary care and in some cases home improvements. Councils can sometimes help in the form of grants and loans, so make sure to get in touch with your local authority.

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