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Personal care and domestic assistance

It can become harder and harder to take care of yourself or keep up with your daily tasks and housework as you get older.

Key points:

  • Personal care and domestic assistance are the most commonly used home care services

  • Receiving personal care can be beneficial to your health and wellbeing

  • Domestic assistance can take away the harder odd jobs around the home

Older woman receiving help getting ready in the morning by her carer
Having a regular visitor to help you at home can connect you to your community and provide valuable social interaction. [Source: iStock]

Many older Australians find it difficult to accept help from their family and friends, let alone a service provider. However, putting your hand up and accepting help from professionals can completely change your quality of life.

Even though you may think getting help at home is a loss of independence, it is actually the opposite, as accepting personal care and domestic assistance means you can spend more of your time on things that matter.

Getting comfortable with people in your home

One of the reasons you may be resisting having assistance in your home, might be because you're worried you don't know who will be helping you out and you don't want a stranger in your home.

Luckily, providers are required to provide staff that are qualified in what they do and can provide care in a friendly, safe and respectful manner.

The added benefit from having staff visit you to provide care is having another person to develop a relationship with. Older people are more likely to experience feelings of loneliness, which can impact a person's wellbeing and mental health.

Having a regular visitor to help you at home can be a really important connection to your local community and provide valuable social interaction.

Additionally, extra help at home means you have more time and energy to get out into your community and connect with your social network.

What is included in personal care?

Personal care involves support for your immediate individual needs, normally it is vitally important bodily tasks that impact your health and hygiene. 

The amount of help you receive at home will depend on your current health and physical abilities. This could change depending on whether you are recovering from an illness or undertaking reablement.

Sometimes people prefer to have a 'standby' available during their morning shower as a precaution, while others may require someone to towel dry them and assist with dressing.

Personal care can include:

  • Showering and bathing

  • Dressing and undressing

  • Grooming and shaving

  • Changing continence aids

  • Assistance with toileting

  • Dental care

  • Repositioning bed-bound clients

  • Assistance with mobility like getting out of bed and moving around the house

  • Eating and drinking

You can access personal care support through a private service provider, through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP), or through your Home Care Package (HCP).

Depending on your needs, you could receive personal care for two hours every now and then, a few times a week, every day, or 24 hour care. You may receive personal care in between other care you receive in your home.

Personal care is one of the most common types of in home supports that people require in their home.

How will domestic assistance help?

If you find your reduced or limited mobility or cognitive decline is affecting your weekly or daily tasks, then domestic assistance may solve the issue and prevent yourself from getting injured.

You have a lot of options available when it comes to dealing with these tasks you find difficult. 

You might have a friendly neighbour willing to help out around the home, or a family member or friend who comes over regularly to do the tasks you find difficult. Or you may decide engaging a professional service to visit from time to time to deal with these daily or weekly jobs provides you with the most benefit.

Domestic assistance can be accessed through a private provider, through the CHSP or your HCP, which would ensure you are receiving professional help around the home.

Domestic assistance services can include:

  • Household cleaning

  • Washing and ironing clothes

  • Grocery or retail shopping

  • Making beds

  • Preparing or making food

Depending on how much help you require, you can receive domestic assistance on a daily, weekly or fortnightly basis.

For example, your clothes or grocery shopping may only need to be undertaken once a week, while household cleaning is necessary once a fortnight. In regards to food preparation, this is considered a daily job, however, your support worker can prepare a number of meals for you in your home, which you can store in your freezer to eat later.

Domestic assistance, just like personal care, is also a very commonly used home care service by older Australians.

You can find home care providers that offer personal care or domestic assistance in your area by using the Aged Care Guide directory.

What chores do you find difficult to undertake around the home? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:

When should I consider help at home?
Informal home care from family and friends
How to have “the home care talk” with your parents

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