Paying for care and support at home in Northern Ireland

HSC trusts can choose when to charge for care and support provided in your own home. If the trust has decided that you need care provided at home, they will then decide whether or not you need to pay for it. 

How much should you pay for care at home?

How much you pay will depend on the financial assessment and the type of care you need. 

Usually, trusts don’t charge for services provided in a person’s home, but there are some exceptions. These include home help and ‘meals on wheels’.

The home help service is provided on a means-tested basis. This means that any charges are based on your ability to pay. The trust will take into account your savings and investments before deciding whether you need to pay for the service yourself. People over 75 are not charged, and so they don’t need to be financially assessed.

A standard charge that is not means-tested is applied to meals on wheels. 

The HSC trust can give you further information on charges for services provided at home. If the trust decides to charge for these services, other than home help or meals on wheels, it must first conduct a financial assessment. Any charges must be reasonable, and if you feel they are too high you have the right to complain – see Complaints and FAQs.

Your HSC trust has a legal duty to meet your eligible care needs. If you refuse to pay for homecare, the trust cannot withdraw the service. They would be expected to continue to meet your needs while attempting to resolve the dispute.

Respite care 

Respite care is temporary care for a person with dementia, which also allows carers to take a break for their responsibilities – it could be just a few hours or for a longer period of time. 

Types of respite care include day centres, homecare services, residential stays and breaks for carers to attend a social function or appointment. 

The need for respite can be identified as a carer’s need, or a person with dementia’s need, as part of an assessment of need. HSC trusts must charge for care in some settings (such as residential stays), whereas other types of respite care (such as respite provided in a person’s own home) may be free. 

If you are charged for respite care services, you may find some financial help locally. Ask your HSC trust about local schemes or charitable organisations to help you pay for respite care. 

Privately-funded care at home 

When a trust carries out a financial assessment, it may decide that you should fund your own care. If this is the case, the trust should give you information on local care agencies you can talk to. 

You may already be planning to fund your own care. If so, social services should still carry out an assessment of need if you want them to, to help you understand what kinds of care and support you need. 

Local community groups and charities may also be able to help, or provide information about where to go for support or care. Some specialist charities and foundations, especially occupational ones such as those serving in the armed forces, may offer grants.