Paying for care in Northern Ireland - complaints and FAQs

Read our guidance on making official complaints about paying for care, as well as the most frequently asked questions about care fees. 


If you have a complaint, you must try to resolve it with the HSC trust, care home or care company first. Ask for the trust or care provider’s complaints procedure. If you can’t resolve your complaint locally, you may be able to take it to the Northern Ireland Ombudsman.

It can really help to have written records of all your communication. Try to keep written confirmation from your HSC trust or care provider of how agreements have been reached and how decisions have been made. 

Funding decisions can be complicated. Some of the organisations listed in Other resources may be able to help you understand the decisions and the process of challenging them.

Frequently asked questions 

I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease almost a year ago, and it has been difficult to adjust to my diagnosis. At the moment I am managing most aspects of my life with help from my partner, but I worry that in the future we’d struggle to cope and I’d like to be prepared. How can we know what problems might lie ahead for us? 

Receiving a diagnosis is difficult and it can take time for you to adjust to it.  However, you are doing the right thing by trying to plan for the future. 

We have some helpful information to start this process, including The dementia guide: Living well after diagnosis. This has information about dementia and the treatments, support and services that are available. You’ll find information about how you can live as well as possible with dementia and about making plans for the future. 

Can I employ a care worker or support worker directly for my mum – who is self-funding – in her own home? 

Yes. You can employ a care worker directly for a relative, and this can enable you to choose who you and your mum want, what they’ll do and when. You will take on responsibilities as an employer.

You will need to consider things like an employment contract and paying tax and national insurance, as well as pension enrolment and liability insurance. It’s also important that you think about what you’ll to do to cover the care worker’s holidays or periods of sickness.

There are local organisations that can help with these matters and guide you through the process. It might be worth talking about your options with your HSC trust or one of the organisations listed in Other resources.

If you choose to use a company or homecare provider (including for live in care) you can still take a greater part in deciding on who will be working with your mum and what is needed. The company will manage the employment, including things like arranging cover if the care worker is ill or on holiday, for example.

My husband is going into a home. We have savings in a joint account and own our own property. What should we do? 

When you complete the financial assessment form, remember that the HSC trust is assessing your husband for care, not you. Split the savings in two and set up separate bank accounts. This is because the HSC trust may keep dividing the money in the joint account for assessment purposes, regardless of how much of it has been spent on your partner’s care, leaving you with less than your original half.

You may want to tell the trust in advance that you intend to split the assets so that your reasons for doing so are documented. While you still live in the property, the trust shouldn’t suggest that you move to free up some cash. 

My dad is going into care and they say he needs to sell his house. Can we buy it from him for less than it is worth? 

A sale for less than the property is worth may be treated as a ‘deprivation of capital’. This means that the HSC trust may think that your father has deliberately tried to reduce the value of his assets so that he qualifies for care funded by the HSC trust.

However, you could rent the property out if the rent meets the cost of the weekly care home bills. Many carers prefer to do this if they want to keep the property in the family.

Dementia Support Line
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