What help do I need?

Start by making a list of what you’d like help with. There might be particular tasks you struggle with – for example, mowing the lawn or doing your shopping – or you might generally have too much to cope with. Think about what would ease your workload.

For help with your personal care – like washing, dressing or taking medication – it’s best to ask for a free care needs assessment from your local council. This will give you a clear idea of you what your care needs are, so you can work out what support would be best for you.

There are lots of organisations and individuals out there who can provide help with specific tasks. This page lists a few options.

Help with cleaning

Cleaners can be a great help, but think about what you want them to do and how much you can afford to pay before you employ one. Two hours a week probably won’t be enough to clean a large home and do your laundry. You might want to get them to focus on a few things you find difficult, like vacuuming, changing the bed or cleaning the oven.

To find a cleaner, you can:

  • ask for personal recommendations from friends and neighbours
  • check the directory on Housing Care
  • contact your local Age UK for their home help services
  • contact your local council who may keep a list of cleaning services.

Help with shopping

To get some help with shopping, you could:

  • contact your local Shopmobility centre if you find it hard to get around. They lend scooters and wheelchairs to people – for free or at a small charge – to use in shops and leisure facilities
  • see if volunteers from Age UK or the Royal Voluntary Service can accompany you to the shops
  • order your shopping online from a supermarket for a small delivery fee. Some supermarkets also offer telephone ordering or home delivery from the store
  • ask your local shops what services they offer, such as someone to walk round with you and help you reach items on higher shelves.

Help to get a hot meal

If you struggle to cook, there are still ways to get a hot meal:

  • order pre-prepared meals to heat and eat. You can find companies providing meals by using the search tool at Housing Care
  • join a regular lunch club. Most areas have one for a small fee. Ask your local council if there’s one near you
  • if your needs are high enough, you may qualify for meals on wheels through your local council. There's usually a charge for this.

Help with gardening and practical tasks

If your garden becomes too much to manage, you could look into:

  • getting aids to make gardening easier, such as long-reach tools or kneelers with hand rails. Ask for advice at your local DIY store or Living Made Easy.
  • getting help from the charity Thrive  - they help disabled people to keep on gardening and can provide information and advice
  • employing a gardener. Ask your neighbours or local garden centre for recommendations. Your local Age UK may offer a paid-for gardening service.

For help with small, one-off practical tasks – such as changing light bulbs, moving furniture or gardening – try the charity GoodGym. They provide volunteer runners to carry out ‘mission runs’ in some areas, to help out older people.

Help with personal care

Personal care includes things like washing, dressing and using the toilet. You can get help with this from a visiting care worker. If you need a lot of help and support, you could consider a live-in carer.

Start with a care needs assessment from your local council if you think you need some help. This works out what your care needs are and whether these needs qualify for council support.

Whether you get council support or not, you may wish to arrange your own home care. There are lots of things to consider, such as what to look for in a home care agency if you use one. For more information, see our factsheet Arranging home care.

Extra money if you need help to look after yourself

If you have a long-term illness or disability that means you need help with your personal care, you may be able to claim Attendance Allowance or Personal Independence Payment, depending on your age. These benefits aren’t means-tested, so do not depend on your finances.

It’s also worth checking to see if there’s anything else you could be claiming. Use our benefits calculator or call the Helpline to arrange a benefits check.

Next steps

Ask friends or neighbours for personal recommendations of services you need, like local cleaners or gardeners.

Check if your local Age UK or the Royal Voluntary Service offer help with cleaning, shopping or gardening.

If you need help with personal care, arrange a care needs assessment with your local council.

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