Elderly Care: What To Do and Where To Start

The elderly care landscape is constantly changing and it can be difficult to know where to start. There are lots of options so we have put together this helpful guide to cover the basics.

This might be the most crucial advice that you get during your caregiving journey. It might be tough, but it is going to help to keep your spirits up and prevent you from sinking beneath your caregiving burdens.

Where to start

Your first step should be to locate your local council’s social services department for a care needs assessment. The aim of a care needs assessment is to determine how much assistance you need and to enable you to live as independently as possible. You will also be able to devise a support plan and talk about any concerns you may have.

Type of social care services

There are four main types of social care services in the UK:

  • Homecare
  • Home adaptations
  • Care homes
  • Specialist housing


Homecare in the UK is supportive care provided at your own home. It can help with everyday tasks that you or your loved one may require extra assistance with such as cooking, cleaning or even getting in and out of bed.

There is a wide range of homecare services available depending on your requirements. Your local authority will decide if you're eligible for these services or whether home carers or a personal assistant may be more appropriate. These services may provide assistance with:

  • Bathing and washing
  • Preparation of meals
  • Cleaning
  • Fitting equipment, such as stair-lifts and bath seats etc.
  • Going to a day centre and other mobility services

There are many benefits to choosing homecare. It is very flexible and can offer different levels of care without the need for long-term commitment. For instance, you might just need help with everyday tasks whilst you are recovering from an illness. When you have recovered you may not need that extra help and the care can be easily stopped at your convenience.

Home adaptations

Home adaptations are adjustment you can make to your home. These changes make it safer and easier to move around and do everyday tasks. Just like a care needs assessment, you can get your local council to assess your home and make recommendations on changes which may help you. Having an assessment is free. In addition to home adjustment, the assessment may also suggest household equipment and gadgets that can help make life easier. These changes can be big or small and can include:

  • Fitting a stair-lift or a banister
  • Widening doorways
  • Installing an outdoor ramp or step rail
  • Installing a bath lift, walk-in shower or a grab-rail to improve your independent mobility
  • Helping you secure your home. Which may involve the installation of outside lights or an intercom system
  • Lowering kitchen worktops and improving accessibility

During the assessment, an occupational therapist will visit your home. They will ask you some questions and inspect your home to determine where you may benefit from some extra assistance and/or modifications. You will work out what you require together. It might also help to involve somebody close to you who could help take notes and ask questions.

Care homes

Care homes provide accommodation and personal care for people who need additional support in their daily lives. They may also be known as residential homes. This level of care can provide help with tasks such as dressing, washing, eating, going to the toilet, and taking medication. There are some care homes which also offer social activities during the day such as outings and day trips.

There are several different types of care home:

Typical care homes: Help with personal care, such as taking medication, washing, dressing and going to the toilet.

Nursing homes: Provide personal care as well as input from a qualified nurse. This is sometimes referred to as care homes with nursing.

Dual-registered care homes: These types of care homes accept residents who need both personal care and nursing care.

Care homes with dementia care: These types of care homes are specially designed to help people with dementia feel comfortable and safe.

Specialist housing

Specialist housing is housing that has been specifically designed to help people with particular needs. It refers to housing that has been purpose designed to assist tenants living independently. The housing can include special design features and/or access to support.