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Care at home

Many people nearing the end of life want to stay in their own home for as long as possible. This can usually be arranged with help from a combination of community palliative care nurses, district nurses, your GP and social services.

Who can help?

Your GP can usually arrange for district nurses and community palliative care nurses (such as Marie Curie nurses, or nurses from your local hospice) to come to your home. They can help with things like:

  • controlling your pain and symptoms
  • providing hands-on nursing care
  • giving practical and emotional support

In some cases, a specialist nurse or an outreach worker from your local hospice can care for you at home. This type of nursing care is usually free.

Help from social services

Social services may be able to organise for someone to come to your home and help with things like washing, going to the toilet, shopping and other domestic tasks. If you feel you would benefit from support such as this then you or another person can contact social services and ask for a ‘needs assessment’. Your carer, if you have one, is also entitled to an assessment of their needs.

If you or your carer are found to have care or support needs, then your local authority has a duty to meet these needs.

You may have to contribute towards the cost of your care, or social services may pay for all of it. How much you pay will depend on the amount of savings you have and any income you earn. Each local authority can decide what to charge for support at home, but they must work out how much you can afford and leave you with a fair level of income.

NHS continuing healthcare for complex care needs

If you have complex ongoing healthcare needs then you may be eligible for NHS continuing healthcare funding (CHC). CHC packages are solely funded by the NHS and are for people who aren’t in hospital. If you’re eligible, you may be able to get help with personal care, such as bathing or dressing. CHC packages can also cover things like care home fees.

Having your needs assessed

To find out if you’re eligible your care needs first have to be assessed by a health or social care professional using what’s called a Checklist Tool. This will either be done in hospital before you return home (by a doctor or nurse), or in your own home (usually by a social worker). After this initial screening the health or social care professional will decide if you should be referred for a full assessment.

If you’re eligible for a CHC package, your local clinical commissioning group will arrange care and support to meet your needs. If you’re not eligible, you may still be able to get help with care needs from your local authority.

More information

You can read more about CHC packages on the NHS Choices website.