Care support available to your loved ones as they age

Getting older is never easy and as your relative ages, the last thing you want to be worrying about is how and where you can find the help you need for them. This article is aimed at helping you and your relatives to fill in the gaps on the information that’s out there, what’s available to you in terms of help and care, and how you can go about getting it.


The HSE provides a wide range of services to older people. These services range from Home Support Services to Residential Care, depending on your need requirements. Your needs are assessed through what’s called a ‘Care Needs Assessment’. The HSE will send a public health nurse or physiotherapist to ensure your relative gets the level of care they require. They will observe various areas of their life including:

Ability to carry out the activities of daily living i.e. bathing, dressing, shopping and moving around Any medical, health and other support services being provided to them Family, social and community supports Their wishes and preferences The areas of their life where support is needed

Following the assessment, your loved one will be advised as to what the best level of care is. This could entail staying in their own home, in a hospital or in a nursing home.

Home Support Services

What is it?

This service is provided to help those who want to remain in the comforts of their own home, but need some help carrying out various daily tasks. The service was previously called ‘Home Help Service’ or ‘Home Care Package Scheme’.

Type of care provided

The care given depends on the individual needs of each person, but help can range from getting in and out of bed, dressing and undressing, personal hygiene care and taking medication.

The amount of hours received on a weekly basis is also dependent on the level of your elderly parents requirements and if they have any relatives nearby or a spouse. Please note, that this service does not provide 24 hour care and is not there to replace any informal care they’re already receiving from the likes of a relative.

How much will I pay?

The service is free for anyone over 65, or younger than 65 if they have a condition which normally affects the elderly like dementia or palliative care. There is no need for a medical card and it is not means tested.

Who can apply?

Home Support Services is there to assist those who are home from hospital or to stay in their own as opposed to going to a hospital or a nursing home.

Although the service is in theory available to all those who need it, do be aware that availability of Home Support Services is also dependent on geographical location and funding available in your county. Wait times to avail of the service can vary from place to place, but the average wait time is three and a half months.

For more detailed information on what the service entails, just click here

To apply for Home Service Support, follow this link

Residential care

What is it?

Residential Care is provided for those who are no longer capable of taking care of themselves on a daily basis and would benefit most from having 24-hour care in a nursing home. Levels of dependency can vary from person to person, but whatever the case your ageing relative will be placed in a home most appropriate for their needs.

Homes can be HSE public funded homes, private or voluntary. Whichever option you and your family decide to take, the HSE has a scheme to part fund the cost of care. For more information on this scheme, see our article Financial Aid Available to you as you Age

Who can apply?

In order to qualify for long-term residential care, your relative will need to undergo the Care Needs Assessment described above. This will determine if long-term care is the best option for them. If they do not qualify first time around, they can apply again within 6 months, or before this, if there is a sudden change in health or circumstances.

How can I apply?

The HSE will assist you and your family in finding the most appropriate solution for your loved one based on their needs and requirements. If they do need to avail of this service, your relative can be referred by their GP, a Public Health Nurse who can be contacted by their local Health Centre, or by a hospital before they are discharged.

Charities and organisations

As the wait time for support from the HSE can vary from person to person, another option available is to make contact with local Charities and Organisations who help to bridge the gap between supply and demand of care services. There are many different groups offering help to the elderly, some of which include ALONE, Friends of the Elderly Ireland, Grandpal and Age Action Ireland.


What is it?

ALONE is a volunteer organisation which has been set up to help older persons age in the comfort of their own home and to provide supported housing for those who are homeless or at risk of becoming so. The charity provides a range of services including Support Coordination, Befriending, Housing with Support and Campaigns for Change.

What do they offer?

ALONE’s services are aimed at those over 60. They offer help to those with varying need requirements including: Support for those who need information on their rights and what they’re entitled to Help with physical or mental health issues Assist those who can’t access vital services Help for those experiencing elder abuse The Befriending Service for those who are lonely and in isolation Housing with Support for the homeless or at risk of becoming homeless Extra support for those who wish to continue living in their home and community

Who can apply?

At the moment, the Support Coordination offered by ALONE is available to older people living in the greater Dublin areas. For those outside these areas, they are supported with information, advocacy and referrals to similar services based in their area.

To contact ALONE directly, just click here Or contact on Tel: 01 679 1032 Email:


What is it?

Grandpal is an organisation aimed at providing meaningful social interactions within Nursing Homes. People from the local area, or ‘Pals’, act as a friendly face for residents and help them to engage in social interactions.

What do they offer?

The Pals provide much needed social support for residents in various ways and connect them to the local community with:

Regular visits to have a cup of tea and chat, board games, short walks, reading and family video calls Activity Classes such as guitar and singing, arts and crafts and group exercises Days Out with your new Pal. The Pals act as a helping hand and assist on days out with one Pal per resident.

Who is it for?

Grandpal’s services are currently available to those living in Residential Nursing Homes and feel they would benefit from more social interaction on a regular basis. In order to avail, your relative’s Nursing Home signs up for the service for them.

For more information, just follow this link

If you’d like to Book a Pal for an older loved one, schedule a call with them here.

Friends of the Elderly Ireland

What is it?

Friends of the Elderly Ireland is a volunteer charity set up to help alleviate loneliness and isolation experienced by the ageing population. They strive to help members to maintain as much of their independence as they can whilst still living in their own home and community. The charity offers a number of different ways to assist those on an emotional and social level.

What do they offer?

Friends of the Elderly Ireland offer their services free of charge and all services are totally confidential. The charity is not government funded and relies on donations. Services include:

Their Visitation Programme is ideally suited to those who are over 70 and are living alone or suffering from loneliness and lack social interaction. A volunteer comes to your relatives home and spends some time with them having a chat, or just some friendly company.

The Friendly Call Service offers a regular free telephone call, either to have a conversation or offer your loved one some support. The service is ideal for those who would prefer a less direct way of receiving social interaction and can be a great way to introduce them to Friends of the Elderly Ireland. This service is available across the country between 11.00am-4.00pm Mon-Friday.

The Social Clubs are available to those who can access the Bolton Street centre in Dublin city. They are a great way to meet other people in the area in a relaxed and informal setting.

Day Trips are regularly organised to help give your relative a break from their home and enjoy a change of scenery. Trips can be all day excursions throughout Ireland or assisted afternoon trips. As well as events held in Dublin city, local businesses and colleges also host different events throughout the year for members. To avail of Day Trips and Social Events, contact your local volunteer for more information on what’s happening or contact the charity directly.

Who can apply?

Friends of the Elderly Ireland is designed for the older persons of Ireland who are suffering from some form of loneliness in their lives.

Their services are primarily based on Bolton Street, Dublin city and the greater Dublin areas and the Dunboyne district. However, anyone from across the country can avail of the Friendly Call Service and if you would like more information on what’s happening in your relative’s local area you can contact the charity directly with the following contact details:

Email: Telephone: 01-8731855

Age Action Ireland

What is it?

Age Action Ireland is an organisation aimed at helping the older citizens of Ireland to live fulfilled and actively engaged lives. Their mission is:

‘To achieve fundamental change in the lives of all older people by empowering them to live full lives as actively engaged citizens and to secure their rights to comprehensive high-quality services according to their changing needs’ .

What do they offer?

Age Action Ireland offer a wide range of services to the ageing population of Ireland. These services include: Care and Repair programme makes minor house repairs for vulnerable older people free of charge and puts them in touch with reliable tradesmen for larger jobs. This service is available for older people all across Ireland. Computer Training is available to those aged over 55 all across Ireland to provide much-needed knowledge on how to navigate today’s world of technology

Information Service for those who need advice on services and issues related to the elderly in Ireland. You can contact the Information Service from 9.30am-1.00pm and 2.00pm-5.00pm Mon-Friday on Tel: (01) 475 6989 Lo-Call: 1890 369369 Email:

LifeLong Learning or U3A is a group where members learn from each other and share knowledge. Anyone can join this learning circle to gain or impart knowledge from one another. There are many groups already in progress across the country, but if you can’t find one near you, you can start your own! For more detailed information on what the organisation offers, follow this link

We hope you’ve found something useful from this article and that you now have a better idea of what extra care is out there for your ageing relative. Whether they remain living in their own home or a Nursing Home, there can be an extra helping hand there when they need it.

If you would like information on what Financial Aid you can avail of, check out our article Financial Aid Available to you as you Age .

Be there for an older loved one, from anywhere.