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What is domiciliary care?

Domiciliary care is provided to people living in their own homes who require additional support with day-to-day life, for example household tasks, personal care, preparing and cooking meals or any other activity that allows them to maintain their independence and quality of life, whilst allowing a family carer looking after a loved one to have a much-needed break.

There are a range of terms different providers will use to describe domiciliary care services. Domiciliary care definition includes hourly care, care at home and visiting care, but all refer to the same service – a carer visiting your home at times during the day to provide care and support. Domiciliary care agencies can arrange for a carer to visit you once, twice or three or more times a day from 15 minutes to an hour depending on your care and support needs.

What does domiciliary care include?

Carers provided by domiciliary care agencies deliver the following to allow you to live safely in your own home:


Personal care

Personal care is a broad term used for several tasks to help you maintain your personal hygiene and appearance, including washing, dressing, grooming and toileting.

Mobility support

The visiting carer will ensure you regularly mobilise at certain times during the day if mobility is an issue and prevents safe movement around the home.


A carer will provide you with companionship when they visit you in your home.

Convalescence care

If you require support after hospital treatment or an operation, for example following a hip replacement, carers can provide convalescence care in your own home.

Medications administration and management

The carer will support with administering medications to ensure you keep on top of your routine.

Meal planning and cooking

Carers will prepare meals and where time allows cook for you, to ensure you get your meals at regular times during the day. If they do not visit at every mealtime, they will prepare in advance food for you to simply put in a microwave.

Domestic and household support

A carer will help with domestic tasks to ensure you keep on top of your cleaning regime.

Live-in care vs. domiciliary care


High quality live-in care in the comfort of your own home

Most people who receive domiciliary care in their own home, may need increasing levels of support as overall health worsens due to age, increasing levels of frailty or the impact of living with conditions that affect older people.

It may be that you need complex care, or overnight care and a visiting carer once or twice a day is unable to safely or effectively meet your overall needs. Maybe you are living with a condition, like dementia or Parkinson’s which requires specialist support and consistency of care, which cannot easily be provided by a carer visiting for short periods of time. For families it can mean that they are required to provide increasing levels of care in between a domiciliary carer visiting which may not be practical.

Live-in care is when a professional carer comes and lives with you in your home to provide you with around the clock care, companionship and support so you can live a better quality of life, in the comfort and familiarity of your own home, whilst receiving consistency and continuity of care – something that cannot easily be achieved with domiciliary care.

Benefits of live-in care

There are many compelling benefits of 24 hour care at home as opposed to using a domiciliary care agency:


24-hour care and support around the clock – something that cannot be achieved with domiciliary care visits.

A highly personalised plan of care is provided to meet care needs, whilst addressing how you wish to live your life. Care plans provided for domiciliary care outline basic ‘tasks’ that need to be undertaken at each visit and generally do not capture a person’s needs, preferences and choices in depth.

Specialist and complex care provided by highly trained carers delivered in the comfort of your own home around the clock. A dedicated carer can provide one-to-one support of specialist conditions like dementia, Parkinson’s or Multiple Sclerosis (MS) – all of which require a continuous and dedicated approach to care during the day, and night. For those who need stroke care or cancer care, nurse-led care at home provided by a professional carer can really improve quality of life.

Generally domiciliary visits are short, anything from 15 mins to a maximum of an hour so for someone needing greater levels of care this level of support is not enough to ensure you get high quality care that improves your quality of life. It is just impossible to achieve in the time the carers are afforded to spend with you.

Companionship is so important for those who live alone in later life to avoid feelings of isolation. With 24 hour live-in care, your professional carer is there day and night to be your companion and is afforded quality time to spend with you – sharing social moments, a listening ear over a cup of tea, time spent enjoying activities together. This cannot be achieved with visiting care from a domiciliary carer who will need to focus on achieving the core care tasks in the short visits they make to your home.

Specialist, expert palliative care and support can be provided to ensure a person is able to stay in the comfort of their own home, whilst receiving compassionate and sensitive end of life support around the clock. Professional carers trained in providing end of life care can be there day and night to manage symptoms and ensure a person’s choices and wishes are carried out, right to the very end. A domiciliary care service simply does not meet the needs of someone requiring specialist palliative end-of-life care.

Unlike domiciliary care, live-in care provides families with much needed peace of mind and reassurance knowing that their loved one is supported and cared for around the clock.

Costs of domiciliary care

The cost of care for people wishing to receive a live-in care at home service is often cheaper than the total cost of domiciliary care at home. When a person is receiving domiciliary care, provided by a domiciliary care provider it is likely that you will be charged extras for additional services to support the person’s specific care needs, for example dementia, Parkinson’s or for someone with high or complex needs, on top of the cost of a carer visiting. These extras add up and can become costly over time.

When a person’s needs increase and a greater number of hours are needed each day to provide the care they require, a domiciliary care agency will continue to charge by the hour, which can become very costly. The total hourly cost to provide domiciliary care to someone who requires 24-hour care and support will certainly exceed the price of an inclusive live-in care service.

Female domiciliary carer supporting elderly female client looking into a hand mirror
Female home carer and elderly female client sitting on a couch looking at a photo album

Choosing a care at home provider

Once you have understood what live-in carer’s do and how live-in care works, and that live-in care is the right choice for you and your family, you will need to do some research into choosing a live-in care provider. You will also need to decide whether you use an introduction agency, whereby a carer is introduced to you but you employ and manage them directly, or you use a fully managed service provider who is regulated and inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to ensure the highest standards of care are provided. The UKHCA (the United Kingdom’s Home Care Association) is a membership body of care at home providers, and is a good place to get information on high quality care at home providers you could consider when making
your decision.

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Talk to us about your care at home needs

We are experts in providing a fully managed, high-quality care at home service rated ‘Outstanding’ in all areas by CQC – the only live-in care provider to achieve this. Call our friendly and approachable team today to see how we can help you and your family.