If you are looking for support with domestic tasks, see our information on House, garden and pet care.
If you need more personal care to help you with everyday tasks (such as washing, dressing, preparing meals or going to the toilet), your starting point should always be to contact your local authority who can carry out an assessment of your needs.
You should contact the adult social care department of the local authority where you live. This could be:
Your local authority can only provide care services if you meet certain eligibility criteria. If you do meet those criteria, you may have to pay for any care you receive. However, you will always be given information and advice about care options and how to access them.
If you are paying for your own care (sometimes called ‘self-funding’), you are free to choose and arrange whichever care services you feel are best for you.
If you are eligible to receive care services from your local authority, you will be given a ‘personal budget’. This is the amount it costs to meet your eligible care needs. If the local authority is responsible for funding all or some of this personal budget, you can choose:
There are a lot of care providers and care services.
Probably the most important consideration is whether you want your care to be fully managed for you by someone else or whether you prefer to manage your own care.
The most common ways to purchase the care you need at home are:
Home care or ‘domiciliary care’ agencies can provide a “fully managed” service. They directly employ, train and supervise the carers which they supply to you and take complete responsibility for the management of the care service.
They are regulated and inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) who inspect the services that are being offered. It is a good idea to read the latest inspection report for any agency you are considering using.
You will find a link to the latest report for all CQC registered agencies in our Home care agencies search.
Which? provides a useful checklist of questions to ask home care agencies. This information can be downloaded as a booklet.
If you would like to manage your own care, you could engage or employ a personal assistant.
You have full choice and control over who works for you. You will need to take on, and fully understand, the responsibilities of being an employer.
You can find detailed information about this on the Hampshire PA Finder website.
If you want to have choice and control over your care and support, but don’t want to take on the responsibility of being an employer, you could engage or contract with a self-employed PA.
People acting as self-employed PAs are in business for themselves. They offer an agreed set of services in exchange for a fee. If you want to engage or contract with a self-employed PA, they should send you a quote for their services, send you an invoice to take payment, say when they want to work and should bring their own equipment. They’re also responsible for making their own tax and National Insurance Contributions.
You can read further guidance from Skills for Care
If you are finding it difficult to find a PA, you might choose to use an ‘introductory agency’ or online market place. Some home care agencies also offer an introductory service.
Introductory agencies usually specialise in ‘live-in carers’ but some also offer home care packages. The carers they introduce to you will usually work on a self-employed basis, will take care of all their own tax affairs and are free to be registered with a number of care agencies. You will pay an ‘introductory’ fee to the agency.
Most introductory agencies will carry out checks and ask for references for any personal assistants on their books but you should always ask what their recruitment processes are and check their full terms and conditions.
Introductory agencies are not regulated or inspected by the Care Quality Commission as they do not have an ongoing role in the management of your care.
You can read further guidance from Skills for Care.
See our information on Protecting adults at risk if you have any safeguarding concerns.
If you are not happy with the service you are receiving from a home care agency, speak to the manager to try to resolve any problems. Ask to see their complaints procedure. See information on how to complain from CQC.
If you have employed or engaged a PA, see information from Hampshire PA Finder on how to sort out problems. You could also call the ACAS helpline for advice: 0300 123 1100 (available Monday to Friday 8am-6pm).
UKHCA choosing home carechecklist
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Page Reference: Buying help at home