Social care and home care

Social care and homecare include support provided to someone in their home by care workers.  

There may be times when you need extra support if you are being cared for at home. Care workers can help with everyday care, including washing, dressing, or housework such as cooking, cleaning or shopping.

Services can be organised through your council’s social services department, or privately. Your GP or hospice can help you organise this care. The services available may depend partly on your financial circumstances.

Social services

Social services may provide support such as:

Social services must do a needs assessment to work out what care you need. A needs assessment is free, and anyone can ask for one. Getting services can take time, so it’s a good idea to start the assessment process as soon as possible. If you have a family member or friend spending a lot of time caring for you, social services must also carry out a carer’s assessment.

If you or your carer have not had an assessment, contact the social services department at your local council. They have a legal duty to do these assessments. Carer’s UK have more information on needs assessments. You can find details of your local council at

Once the assessments are done, the council will decide whether you meet the criteria for care. If you do, social services will draw up a care and support plan to meet your needs. Services may be provided:

  • directly by the council
  • by independent organisations (such as homecare agencies) on the council’s behalf
  • by a direct payment so that you can choose how you organise the support you or your family member is entitled to.

You may have to pay for some of the care. This will depend on what the service is and your financial circumstances. Social services will do a financial assessment (means test) to work this out. If your needs don’t meet the criteria for getting support, the council should still give you information and advice about support that is available.

If your needs change and you need more or different care, speak to your GP or nurse about this.

If you do need to pay and money is tight, there are sometimes grants available from local charities – ask social services for details of any in your area. For example, the Elizabeth Coteman Fund makes small grants to people with pancreatic cancer.

Private care

You may not be eligible for support from social services, or may prefer to arrange and pay for support themselves.

The social services department should give you information about finding local services and care providers. Carers UK have lists of care organisations and reports on their services.

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“Source services early and use them. It’s a very difficult disease to contend with. Everyone needs strength to deal with it and you need support to maintain this strength.”

Updated October 2021

Review date February 2024