What help do I need?

You might know there are particular tasks you struggle with – for example, if you can’t mow the lawn anymore you may want to get a gardener. If you’re generally finding that you’ve got too much to cope with, think about what would ease your workload.

If you need help with your personal care – like washing, dressing or taking medication – the best way to find out what your care needs are is to request a free care needs assessment from the social services department of your local council. This will tell you what help you could benefit from and where to look for it. For more information on this, see our factsheet First steps in getting help with your care needs.

Help with everyday tasks

There are lots of organisations and individuals out there who can provide help with specific tasks. Here are 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, ask for personal recommendations from friends and neighbours, or use a website which lists suppliers. You could check the directory on Housing Care or contact your local Age UK for their home help services. Your local council may also keep a list of cleaning services. Look under adult social care on their website or call their social services duty team.

Help with shopping

  • If you’re online, most supermarkets offer internet shopping for a small delivery fee.
  • If you have trouble walking round the shops, Shopmobility lends scooters and wheelchairs to people –free or at a small charge – to use in shops and leisure facilities.
  • Volunteers from Age UK or the Royal Voluntary Service may be able to accompany you to the shops.

Some supermarkets also offer telephone ordering or home delivery from the store. Local shops may offer their own services such as someone to walk round with you and help you reach items on higher shelves. Ask what’s available.

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
  • Most areas have regular lunch clubs you can join 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

  • Your local DIY store or the Disabled Living Foundation can advise you about aids that can help make gardening easier, such as long-reach tools or kneelers with hand rails.
  • The charity Thrive helps disabled people to keep on gardening and can provide information and advice.
  • To find a gardener, ask your neighbours or local garden centre for recommendations. Your local Age UK may offer a paid-for gardening service.

If you need help with small, one-off practical tasks such as changing light bulbs, moving furniture or gardening, the charity GoodGym provides volunteer runners to carry out ‘mission runs’ in some areas, to help out older people. Mission runs are continuing during the coronavirus emergency period, but with restrictions.

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. If the council is paying for any of your care (see Getting a care needs assessment) they should arrange this for you, although you may also have the option to arrange it yourself using the budget they offer. If you’re paying for your own care, the council should still be able to provide a list of approved home care agencies. The Care Quality Commission – the care regulator in England – can also supply a list.

There are lots of things to consider when arranging home care. For more information, see our factsheet Getting care services at home.

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 eligible for Attendance Allowance or Personal Independence Payment, depending on your age. These benefits aren’t means-tested.

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

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