domiciliary care

December 2023

Domiciliary Care Services In December 2023 – What does it mean and cost?

I’m sure you will agree that when it comes to finding out about domiciliary care services, it can get very confusing with the range of things you have to read and understand.

This guide will help answer all your key questions related to domiciliary care.

Topics that you will find covered on this page


Domiciliary care, sometimes called home care, is rapidly becoming a popular alternative to residential and nursing care. 

Domiciliary care enables those with varying care needs (through illness, long-term medical issues or old age) to remain in their own home indefinitely or for a longer period of time than was previously possible.

Home care can be offered in several capacities – and the intensity and frequency of visits will depend on individual circumstances and care needs. Some only need intensive domiciliary care for short periods of time, whilst others need low-level, long-term care.

Domiciliary care, also called dom care, can also be offered to young people, children and adults with temporary or permanent care needs and is not an exclusive service for the elderly alone.

The main advantage of homecare is that it is carried out in a person’s own home, eliminating the need for them to spend large amounts of time in a hospital and enabling them to stay in their own home indefinitely, if not for a longer period of time than would usually have been possible before domiciliary care was an option.

Domiciliary care for elderly people can be either on a short term basis, where a carer may come to your home for up to an hour up to a carer living with you 24 hours per day. 

This is known as live-in care and is increasingly becoming an option for people that do not want to go into a care home but want the comfort of having someone on hand to help them.

You can read about care after hospital discharge on this site.  The article discusses the process and how you can use home care to support the discharge.

You can read some of the advantages and challenges to home care below.

But what exactly is the meaning of domiciliary care, who is it appropriate for, how can it be accessed and what can you expect when you choose to access care at home?

Here is a great video that explains more about what domiciliary care is.

What does domiciliary care mean?

The definition of domiciliary care is simple: domiciliary care means a trained individual or nurse coming to your home periodically to administer care of some kind.

At the basic level, this person provides companionship and helps with everyday tasks, such as cleaning the house and buying food shopping. They may only visit once daily or weekly basis twice a week.

More intensive dom care may involve a district nurse or healthcare assistant and could be provided several hours daily.

In this instance, medications can be administered, dressings may be changed, and blood tests and other observations may be taken. Help with personal care such household tasks such as washing, dressing and feeding may also be provided.

What are some domiciliary care examples?

Examples of domiciliary care include a variety of programmes designed to offer people support and help in their own homes. Domiciliary home care services provide a flexible and individualised approach to address each person’s specific needs.

One such instance is home care nursing, in which qualified nurses offer medical care and supervision within the convenience of the patient’s home. A domiciliary support worker is essential to help with daily responsibilities, including personal care, medication management, meal preparation, and domestic chores.

These illustrations of in-home care highlight the value of allowing people to preserve their independence and get the assistance they need in a comfortable and familiar setting.

What is the difference between home care and domiciliary care?

When considering care options for yourself or a loved one, understanding the difference between domiciliary care and home care is essential, particularly for those seeking financial advice and strategies for avoiding care home costs. Home care support typically refers to non-medical assistance provided by caregivers who visit your home, offering help with daily activities, companionship, and household tasks.

On the other hand, domiciliary care is a broader term that encompasses both medical and non-medical support services, allowing individuals to receive professional care while staying in their own homes. Domiciliary care may include services such as home nursing, therapy, or specialized medical support.

By opting for at home care, individuals can maintain their independence, receive personalized support, and potentially avoid the higher costs associated with residential care homes.

Understanding the distinctions between home care and domiciliary care can assist in making informed decisions regarding care options and financial planning for long-term care needs.

Where can I find domiciliary care agencies?

Domiciliary care providers are normally arranged through your local authority or can be obtained through private domiciliary care agencies.

If sourcing care through a domiciliary care provider, you should get the opportunity to meet the person who will be providing your care. You’ll be fully briefed on the expectations and provision of care you’ll receive.

Carers from a local authority domiciliary care system can be allocated randomly, so you may not always see the same person.

If, however, you find that you are more interested in finding a care home you can read about that here too.

What is the difference between domiciliary care services and residential care?

Plainly speaking, domiciliary care services are provided in an individual’s own home, whilst residential care involves the person staying permanently in a specialist establishment set up solely to provide care.

It is important to note that residential homes do differ from nursing homes. Nursing homes provide more intensive care for residents, whereas residential homes can be suitable for people with limited mobility, early onset Dementia and other low-level care needs.

Normally domiciliary care (home care) is a more appropriate alternative to residential care, as those needing nursing care may have care needs which are too severe to be catered for in a domestic setting.

Is home care better than residential care?

One of the most popular reasons individuals choose to opt for domiciliary care services over residential care is that it allows them to stay in their own home.

This is a huge advantage for many older people, especially when they are fit and well enough to reside at home.

This less drastic alternative allows an individual to retain their independence and community ties as they remain in their local area – in many cases, they are close to friends and family.

Many people don’t need residential care – but previously ended up moving into a residential home or sheltered accommodation purely because there was little provision for care at home. Domiciliary care (home care) changes that – so as little disruption, distress and loss of security occurs as is possible.

There are other benefits – financially, domiciliary care services can work out less expensive than costly residential care, as you pay for your own keep and meals as you would normally.

Family and friends may also care for an individual to subsidise the amount of domiciliary care provided, which can further bring down the cost of care. 

domiciliary care meaning

What is dom care, and is it the right option for me?

Dom care is especially appealing for anyone with care needs wishing to remain independent in their home. But determining whether domiciliary care is suitable for you isn’t purely about personal preference.

When deciding whether domiciliary care is for you, there are several things you’ll need to consider. Firstly you’ll need to assess your care needs – for this, you’ll need to contact your GP or social worker, who will order a report on your condition which is made by a medical professional.

Recommendations can then be made regarding the level and type of care you need. You may be entitled to benefits due to your condition, and you can use these to pay for your domiciliary care.

I have specific needs. Is specialist domiciliary care available?

Normally domiciliary care is reserved only for those with less intensive care needs, or for those with disabilities or palliative care requirements.

Specialist care may need to be provided by a company who deal only with the specific needs in question – or, unfortunately, domiciliary care may not be an option.

If you have special care needs, your first step is contacting your GP, consultant or social worker. They can carry out a care assessment (as above) to determine exactly what types of care support (and any equipment) you need to enable you to live safely, comfortably and independently in your home.

"Specialist care may need to be provided by a company who deal only with the specific needs in question – or, unfortunately, domiciliary care may not be an option."

The Process of Choosing a Domiciliary Care Agency

Assessing your needs and preferences, such as the required level of care and additional support, is the first step in selecting an appropriate domiciliary care agency. Consult your local council and community resources to identify reputable local home care providers.

Interview prospective carers about their experience, credentials, and capacity to provide care based on your needs.

Ensure that the agency and its carers are fully trained and fully regulated by the regional authority responsible for quality improvement.

How to Ensure Quality of Care and Monitoring Progress

Maintain regular communication with the domiciliary carer and family members to discuss care goals, concerns, and necessary adjustments to ensure quality care and monitor progress. Review care plans regularly and make any adjustments required to accommodate changing needs, be it additional support or a reduction in services.

Work with the care provider and the quality improvement authority to promptly address and resolve problems if they arise.

What does domiciliary care cost?

The cost of domiciliary care in the United Kingdom varies based on location, the required level of care, and the care provider. On average, the hourly rate for domiciliary care ranges between £15 and £30.

Additionally, depending on your eligibility and financial circumstances, your local council may offer financial assistance. 

To explore funding options and gain a clearer understanding of the costs associated with domiciliary care in your area, it’s advised to contact your local council and care providers directly.

How can I pay for my care costs?

There are a number of ways you can pay for your care. How you pay and how much you pay will depend on many factors – including the area you live in, the amount of money you have in savings and terms of assets, and the care company you choose.

Even if you feel you have sufficient funds to pay for your care right now, it’s important to claim all benefits you are entitled to – because when your contribution to care is worked out, it will be calculated as if you already receive everything you can claim.

Domiciliary care is subject to some of the same benefit systems as residential care – although some specialist funds and types of benefits are available for home care use.

Broadly there are several options you can choose from:

Pay for your care yourself

If you have sufficient funds, you may be able to pay for your domiciliary care (home care) yourself.

As domiciliary care may be required for an indefinite period of time (and may eventually need to be replaced by residential care), you’ll need to consider future costs and how long you’ll need the care for. The intensity and type of care may also change – for example, your condition could deteriorate over time, meaning you require more frequent attendance.

As you pay your care costs yourself, you can sell assets or use savings to fund your care if you wish.  Here is more information on using your savings.

Pay for your domiciliary care with equity release

One of the most popular ways to pay for home care is through equity release.  It means you can access a tax-free lump sum and stay in your home while receiving care.   

Here is a video that explains how equity release works.

Use benefits to subsidise your domiciliary care costs

If you have money but don’t feel you have enough to cover your domiciliary care costs now and in the future, you can subsidise the cost of the care you receive using benefits allocated for this purpose or a pension fund.

Disability Living Allowance (now known as Personal Independence Payment) and Attendance Allowance. The Personal Independence Payment scheme is for people aged 16-64, while Attendance Allowance is for those over 65.

If you need guidance or advice regarding the benefits you are entitled to, you can find details on the website or at your local Citizens Advice Bureau. Certain charities and social key workers can also help with applications for benefits.

Use your benefits to pay for your care

This option is for those who don’t have any funds to use to pay for their care.

Although it is possible to pay for home care solely with benefits, it may limit your choice of care companies, and you may not be able to select your ideal care provider.

You may need to use government care schemes and charity schemes to supplement your paid care. Here is more information on claiming benefits you may be entitled to.

What is the domiciliary care allowance?

The domiciliary care allowance, also known as the domiciliary carer’s allowance or dom care allowance, is a financial benefit provided to eligible individuals who provide care and support to a person with a disability or illness in their own home.

This allowance recognises the vital role of domiciliary carers in enabling individuals to receive care in familiar surroundings. It serves as a form of financial assistance to help alleviate the financial burdens associated with providing home-based care, offering support to those who dedicate their time and effort to caring for their loved ones.

Frequently asked questions about the domiciliary care allowance are answered below.

How much is the domiciliary care allowance?

Depending on the location and unique circumstances, the amount of the domiciliary care allowance may change. By getting in touch with the relevant government or social services department, specific information on the precise amount can be received.

Is domiciliary care allowance taxable?

A domiciliary care stipend might be taxed. For advice on the tax ramifications depending on specific circumstances, consult a tax expert or the appropriate tax authorities.

How long does it take to get domiciliary care allowance?

Applications for a domiciliary care allowance may take longer or shorter to process depending on the region and unique circumstances. It is advisable to get in touch with the relevant government agency or social services division to learn more about processing delays.

Is domiciliary care allowance means tested?

The eligibility for and amount of a domiciliary care allowance may depend on an evaluation of the recipient’s income, savings, and other pertinent circumstances.

Is domiciliary care allowance backdated

Depending on the individual rules and procedures in effect, a domiciliary care allowance may be retroactive to the date of application or the date of eligibility. For specific details on backdating policies, it is advised to speak with the relevant government or social services department.

How to apply for domiciliary care allowance

It is essential to get in touch with the proper government agency or social services division in your region to apply for a domiciliary care allowance. They will give you the required application paperwork and will walk you through the process, which may entail submitting additional materials and participating in tests or interviews.

How can I work out what my care costs will be?

Suppose you’re feeling confused by domiciliary care costs.

In that case, you can try our handy Care Fees Calculator, which enables you to work out your care budget, considering your various available funds.

Suppose you need help or professional assistance when calculating your domiciliary care costs. In that case, you can use our directory to find a specialist financial advisor to help you fund your care costs.  

The directory has been specifically developed for those needing care funding guidance.

It’s additionally worth noting that depending on your circumstances, you may be entitled to NHS Continuing Healthcare (a service provided by the NHS for those with ongoing long-term medical needs).

This is free of charge and can be arranged through your GP, consultant or social worker. For more information on the Continuing Healthcare Scheme, read our dedicated article here.

Can you get NHS domiciliary care?

Yes, it is possible to receive NHS domiciliary care in certain situations. The National Health Service (NHS) may offer domiciliary care services to those with particular healthcare requirements who need support and assistance from medical professionals in their homes.

Based on the region and unique circumstances, there may be differences in the availability and eligibility for NHS domiciliary care.

It is important to speak with local NHS officials or medical experts to learn about the precise requirements, application procedure, and services available in your area.

 Domiciliary care agencies – Where can I find domiciliary care near me?

At UK Care Guide, we have built a comprehensive database of over 10,000 domiciliary care agencies and home care providers in the UK.  You can use our home care search facility to find How can I choose between domiciliary care providers?

The first step when choosing a domiciliary care provider or home care agency is to ensure you have a comprehensive assessment of your care needs.  Please read our guide to choosing a home care provider for more information.

You then need to assess your personal budget first – as you’ll need to know what you can afford before you start to search for care.

This is important because if you spend time choosing a domiciliary care company only to find out they are too expensive for your allocated budget, you’ll not only be disappointed but also be required to start all over again.

Once you’ve identified an agency you feel positive about, we recommend making a shortlist of around five. This enables you to narrow down your original list based on your ideal values, and pinpoint the providers close to ‘perfect’.

You should consider the aspects most important to you – but also remember to check reviews and the CQC’s independent rating, watching out for any bad press and poor testimonials.

Once you’ve created your shortlist, it’s time to contact the care providers. You should be invited to an initial meeting where you can meet someone to discuss your requirements. Following these meetings, you can make an informed decision on which provider to opt for.

It’s also worth noting that a good domiciliary care agency should offer you the opportunity to meet the person administering your domiciliary care.

This way, you can ensure that you have a rapport with your caregiver. Still, it also eliminates any fear, anxiety or uncertainty you may understandably be feeling as you welcome a new person into your home.

If your domiciliary care provider can’t guarantee that you won’t always see someone new or refuses to introduce you to your caregiver, it may be best to look elsewhere.

For more detailed information about the steps you should take, please read our section on choosing between domiciliary care agencies.

How do I know my care provider is safe and professional?

All home care providers and their residential counterparts are subject to strict domiciliary care standards.

The CQC (Care Quality Commission) individually vet each company, but (as detailed below) it’s worth checking independent reviews and working on word-of-mouth recommendations when choosing a care company.

You can check whether your domiciliary care provider is reputable and registered with your local authority and the CQC by looking on their website or ringing them to confirm. You should always choose a registered company regularly vetted by the CQC where possible.

The UKHCA is the UK’s official professional association of home care providers – so any member of this society will be subject to additional scrutiny and regulation.

If you choose to go with an individual (perhaps a person you know or a professional freelance caregiver), ensure you have a list of credentials and testimonials, as they also have to maintain domiciliary care standards.

You can authenticate testimonials by asking for the contact details of the person who gave it – that way; you can ensure that the feedback is genuine and factual.

Freelance providers should be professional and ideally write up a contract between you (or Service Level Agreement) so that expectations are clear from the beginning.

If you have any safety or security concerns, you should raise these with your care provider early on, to give them a chance to reassure you and put appropriate measures in place if needed.

Who typically works as a domiciliary care worker?

The level of qualification of the individual providing your domiciliary care will depend on your personal situation and the type of care it needs. For example, you may only need low-level care from your domiciliary care worker – and in this case, a home care worker will be looking after you.

A domiciliary care worker doesn’t need any relevant qualifications, but they must have some experience and may be subject to DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks for security purposes.

On the opposite end of the scale, you may need palliative or ongoing medical care in your own home.

This will be provided by a qualified nurse (known as a district or mobile nurse) and/or a healthcare assistant. This typically will not be provided by a domiciliary care worker.  Both must complete relevant training and obtain qualifications to carry out their work.

If you choose to pay privately domiciliary care agencies, you can check the credentials and any training your home care provider enrols its staff upon. Any good home care company should be more than happy to explain their recruitment process and demonstrate your carer’s suitability for their role.

What do domiciliary care workers do?

In a domiciliary care setting, the role of a domiciliary care worker, also known as a domcare or domiciliary assistant, is crucial in providing essential support and assistance to individuals in their own homes. Domiciliary care workers offer a range of services aimed at promoting independence and enhancing the quality of life for those in need.

Their responsibilities may include assisting with personal care tasks such as bathing, dressing, and grooming, supporting medication management, preparing meals, and providing companionship. They may also help with light household chores, errands, and transportation to appointments or social activities.

The role of a domiciliary care worker is to ensure the well-being and comfort of individuals, helping them maintain their independence and remain in the familiar surroundings of their own homes.

Types of Domiciliary Care Services

Domiciliary care services provide various assistance options to help individuals maintain their independence at home. The cost of these services can vary based on the individual’s specific requirements.

Personal care involves assisting with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and toileting, whereas companionship provides emotional support and daily or weekly social interaction. This assists individuals in maintaining relationships with their local community and loved ones.

Individuals with specific medical needs may receive medical support, medication management, and complex care. On social occasions, mobility assistance ensures safety and accessibility. Additionally, household maintenance and chores such as cleaning, laundry, and meal preparation are provided to make the care recipient’s life easier.

Family Involvement and Support

Family members play a vital role in the care process by providing emotional support, weighing in on care plans, and assessing the quality of care. Encourage family members, the domiciliary carer, and the care recipient to communicate openly.

This collaborative approach to care helps ensure that the individual receives the highest quality while remaining in their environment.

Funding and Financial Assistance for Domiciliary Care

To cover the cost of domiciliary care, investigate financial assistance options such as local government-issued personal budgets. Your local council may offer financial assistance to help you access home care services, contingent on your eligibility and financial situation. In addition to council funding, you may also consider private funding or family contributions to the cost of home care services.

Short-Term and Respite Domiciliary Care Options

In some cases, only a few weeks of domiciliary care are required, such as during recovery from an illness or surgery. During this time, short-term domestic carers can be arranged to assist with household chores and personal care. Respite care is an alternative option for families who require a temporary break from their caregiving responsibilities.

This additional assistance ensures that the recipient continues receiving high-quality care in the comfort of their home, allowing family members to rest and recharge.

The Benefits of Domiciliary Care for the Care Recipient and Family

Domiciliary care enables individuals to maintain their quality of life while living independently in their homes. Daily or weekly, home carers provide various services, including assistance with household chores, personal care, and companionship.

Receiving care in familiar surroundings provides the recipient with a sense of security and comfort.

This arrangement also permits family members to participate in the care process while knowing that their loved one is receiving professional assistance

Ensuring a Positive Relationship Between Care Recipients and Carers”

Open communication and trust are essential for fostering a positive relationship between care recipients and in-home domiciliary carers.

Encourage regular interaction between the care recipient, the domiciliary carer, and family members to discuss preferences, expectations, and any expectations, and any concerns. Establishing rapport and recognising each other’s needs and boundaries creates a harmonious care environment that benefits all parties.

The Importance of Quality Assurance and Regulation in Domiciliary Care

Quality improvement authorities and regulatory bodies are crucial in preserving high care standards in the domiciliary care industry.

The comprehensive regulation of home care services ensures that care is safe, effective, and tailored to the individual’s needs. Care agencies must adhere to specific guidelines and regulations to maintain their licenses, and ongoing assessments are conducted to ensure quality standards.

Domiciliary Care and Emotional Support

In addition to providing physical assistance, in-home care also includes emotional support and companionship. Home carers provide vital emotional support to individuals who may feel isolated or lonely by lending an ear, engaging in meaningful conversations, and participating in social outings.

By addressing physical and emotional needs, domiciliary care helps improve the recipient’s overall health and quality of life.

Domiciliary Care and the Local Community

Local community resources can significantly enhance the experience of receiving domiciliary care. Home carers can assist individuals in maintaining ties to their local community by accompanying them to events and social gatherings or simply by introducing them to neighbours.

This integration enables people to maintain independence and social engagement, contributing to a healthier and more fulfilling life.

Customising Domiciliary Care to Suit Individual Needs

The adaptability of domiciliary care enables it to be tailored to each individual’s specific needs and preferences.

Domiciliary care can be tailored to meet a wide range of needs, from basic household tasks such as meal preparation and personal care assistance to more complex care for individuals with specific medical conditions.

By collaborating closely with care recipients, their families, and healthcare professionals, in-home carers can develop a care plan that adapts as the individual’s needs change.

This personalised support approach ensures that the care recipient receives extra support while feeling comfortable and secure in their homes.

Working with Local Authorities and Service Providers

Partnering with local authorities and service providers is essential for ensuring that domiciliary care services are well-coordinated and meet the specific needs of the individual. By working closely with these entities, home care providers can ensure they deliver care following local guidelines and regulations.

In addition, collaboration with local service providers can help identify additional resources and support services that may be available to the care recipient, further enhancing their quality of life and promoting living independently.

About the author and her expertise

This article was written by Rose Walters, a published writer on a range of care-related topics.   Rose writes from a lot of personal experience and can bring this into the writing alongside her specialist knowledge on these topics.

UK Care Guide - A trusted resource

Frequently Asked Questions

What is domiciliary care, and who can benefit from it?

Home care, also known as domiciliary care, is a range of services provided to individuals needing assistance in their homes. It is intended to help people maintain their independence and quality of life while receiving the necessary assistance. The elderly, those recovering from illness or surgery, and those with physical or mental impairments can all benefit from domiciliary care.

How do I choose the right domiciliary care provider for my needs?

Assessing your unique needs and preferences is the first step in selecting the ideal in-home care provider. Consult your local council and community resources to identify local home care providers with a solid reputation. Interview potential carers about their experience, credentials, and ability to provide care based on your specific requirements. Ensure that the regional authority responsible for quality improvement has fully trained and regulated the agency and its carers.

How is domiciliary care funded, and what financial assistance options are available?

Funding for domiciliary care can come from various sources, such as local government-issued personal budgets, private funding, or family contributions. Depending on your eligibility and financial situation, your local council may offer you financial assistance to help you access home care services. It is essential to investigate all available options to find the funding arrangement that best fits your circumstances.

Can domiciliary care services be adjusted if my needs change over time?

Yes, in-home care services can be modified to meet changing requirements. Regular reviews of your care plan allow for adjustments to be made to ensure that you receive the appropriate level of assistance. By collaborating closely with your domiciliary carer, family members, and healthcare professionals, you can create a care plan that adapts to your changing needs and provides the most appropriate care possible.

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