You are here: Home / Get support / Family and carer support / Finding help and support at home
Finding help and support at home
If you’re caring for someone with dementia, you don’t have to cope on your own. Here’s how extra support can help you and the person with dementia, and advice on arranging care at home.
Accepting you need help with your caring responsibilities can be a difficult step.
But while you might feel that you are ‘failing’ as a carer, giving up or letting the person down, home care and support can benefit both you and the person you care for.
- relieve some of the physical strain on you (eg lifting, dressing)
- reduce agitation and distress for the person with dementia – paid carers often have training and skills for handling difficult caring tasks
- improve your relationship with the person with dementia – if you are no longer responsible for tasks that they find frustrating or stressful, tensions may be relieved
- provide social interaction for you both
- enable you to take time out for yourself
- help you get a good night’s sleep, if you often attend to the person overnight
- keep the person with dementia connected to the community
- ensure they’re eating and drinking well (especially if they live alone)
- enable them to remain in their own home for longer
A volunteer or paid carer could help with:
- preparing meals, cleaning or gardening
- managing medication
- physically moving the person with dementia – for example, helping them in and out of bed
- personal care such as washing and dressing
- helping with toileting and managing incontinence
- supporting them with ‘sundowning’ – a state of confusion and anxiety that some people with dementia experience at dusk
- encouraging them to take part in activities, such as exercise, reading, games or socialising
- providing night-time care so you can get more sleep
- managing distressed behaviour, such as pacing, shouting or anger
Family and friends can be a great source of informal support.
You might feel uncomfortable accepting their offers of help or actively seeking support, but people often want to help – sometimes they just don’t want to interfere, or are unsure of what you need.
You could suggest things they could do to make your life easier, such as:
- picking up shopping or prescriptions
- doing some cooking or cleaning
- sitting with the person with dementia, or taking them out shopping, to a café or for an activity, so you have some time to yourself
- taking them to hospital and other appointments
- providing you with a listening ear
In many areas, there are community support services that can help you in your caring role. These may be voluntary or paid for, often at a nominal cost.
You can find out what’s available by contacting your local council, the person’s GP or social worker, or the Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline – see Sources of support, below.
Community support might include:
- befriending services – these are often run by churches, other faith groups or community centres. Befrienders may provide company at home, and/or take the person with dementia out
- day centres
- lunch clubs
- memory cafés
- dementia support groups
- meal delivery
If you care for someone with dementia, you may be eligible for funding to help with the cost of their care. This is often means-tested (based on the person’s income and savings).
Financial benefits that you or the person with dementia may be able to claim include:
- Attendance Allowance
- Carer’s Allowance
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- NHS continuing healthcare funding
To access some of these benefits, you may need a Carer’s Assessment or Needs Assessment by Social Services to establish what support would help the person with dementia, and you in your caring role.
Our Financial and legal sources of support guide has more information on assessments and benefits – see Sources of support, below.
When choosing a home carer, these are some things to consider.
- Find out which care agencies operate in your area: there is a search tool at homecareassociation.org.uk/find-care/homecare-directory.html
- Speak to the families of other people with dementia and ask who they use and how they would rate them – dementia support groups can be a useful source of contacts. You can also search for reviews online and on social media (eg local Facebook Groups)
- Check that the care agency is regulated by the Care Quality Commission (England), Care Inspectorate (Scotland/Wales), or the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (Northern Ireland) – see Sources of support, below, for contact details
- Search online for the agency’s latest inspection report, or ask the agency for a copy
- Make sure the carers are trained in dementia care – ask for details of their training/qualifications
- Confirm that they have had Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks to certify their suitability for working with vulnerable adults
- Ask for references
- Decide how often you would like a carer to visit, and at what times of the day
- Find out whether the agency will try to send the same carer every time
- Ask what tasks they can and can’t help with
- Prepare a short profile of the person with dementia to inform their carers about their likes, dislikes and facts about their life
- Ask if it’s possible to have a trial period to assess whether they can provide the right sort of care
Some people prefer to use an independent/private carer who is self-employed, rather than working for an agency.
There are benefits to this – for example, you will have the same carer every time, and they can build a greater rapport with the person with dementia. They may also be more flexible and less rushed.
If you go down this route, ensure you take all of the factors above into account, and also consider things like what will happen if the carer is ill or on holiday, and what insurance they have in case of accidents or breakages.
For any questions or concerns about finding help and support at home, contact our free Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline on 0800 888 6678 (Monday-Friday 9am-9pm, Saturday-Sunday 9am-5pm, every day except 25th December) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would prefer to book a phone or video appointment with a specialist dementia nurse, please visit dementiauk.org/get-support/closer-to-home/.
Dementia UK information that you might find helpful:
Caring from a distance
Financial and legal sources of support
The Carer’s Assessment
Advance Care Planning
Guide to NHS continuing healthcare
Other useful organisations and resources:
Gov.uk: Apply for a Needs Assessment
Care Information Scotland: Assessment of your care needs
NI Direct: Arranging health and social care
Care Quality Commission (England)
Care Inspectorate (Wales)
The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (Northern Ireland)
Care Inspectorate (Scotland)
Find your local Adult Social Care Services
Independent Age – helping older people remain independent
The Silver Line – telephone befriending for over 60s
Hometouch – search for independent carers
The Live-in Care Hub
Download our Finding help and support at home leaflet
Download and read our leaflet on Finding help and support at homeDownload now
How can we support you
Whether you have a question that needs an immediate answer or need emotional support when life feels overwhelming, these are the ways our Admiral Nurses can support youGet support
Publication date: January 2020
Review date: January 2022