Home help service


The Home Help Service supports the assessed needs of vulnerable people in the community who through illness or disability are in need of help with day to day tasks.

Home help services are provided in order to assist people to remain in their own home and to avoid going in to long-term care. In practice, the Health Service Executive (HSE) either provides the home help service directly or make arrangements with voluntary organisations to provide them.

The service is generally free to medical card holders and is always free to people who have contracted Hepatitis C directly or indirectly from the use of Human Immunoglobulin-Anti-D or from the receipt within Ireland of another blood product or a blood transfusion and who have a Health Amendment Act Card. Other people may be asked to make a contribution to the cost of the service.

The HSE is not limited in the categories of people they can assist at home. However, the priorities are normally to provide a service to people with Hepatitis C who have Health Amendment Act Cards, older people, families with small children where the mother is dead or seriously ill and people with disabilities.

If you get a home help, you may have to make a contribution towards the cost, even if you hold a medical card. In some cases, you may have to pay all the costs involved. If you are in a position to pay the costs involved, you can ask the Health Service Executive (HSE) for an arrangement whereby the HSE has all the responsibilities of the employer while you pay the costs.

There are not enough people available to provide home help services to people who are assessed as being in need of the service. In some areas, you may be asked to identify a person who may be able to provide the service. If that person is considered suitable by the HSE, then he/she may be offered the job.

Some Local Health Offices also provide a limited home help respite care service for carers.


The home help is expected to provide a set number of hours assistance each day or each week. The precise arrangements can usually be agreed between you and the HSE. The focus of the Home Help service is on essential personal care, such as washing, taking a shower, assistance with changing position, oral hygiene, or help at mealtime, and on essential domestic duties (like lighting a fire or bringing in fuel if there is no alternative heating source, or basic essential cleaning of the person’s personal space). Home helps are not expected to provide nursing or medical care.

The particular supports provided to each person will depend on the needs that are identified during the assessment which is undertaken by a HSE health professional, generally a public health nurse.

Each application for home help services is considered on its own merits. The Local Health Office may take a number of factors into account, including income, other family support available, remoteness from services and availability of suitable people to provide the service.

If you are given a service, you may be asked to contribute to the costs involved, even if you hold a medical card.

How to apply

You should apply to the local public health nurse, who assesses your need for the service and then processes the application to your Local Health Office.

Further information

Home help service and the law

Empowered by Section 61 of the Health Act 1970, the Health Service Executive (HSE) may make arrangements to assist in the maintenance at home of people who are sick or infirm, or their dependants. This assistance normally takes the form of the Home Help service. The Act (Section 61(1) of the Health Act 1970) allows for the service to be provided free of charge, or a charge may be levied.

The HSE is not obliged to make this service available to anyone except those who have contracted Hepatitis C directly or indirectly from the use of Human Immunoglobulin-Anti-D or from the receipt within Ireland of another blood product or a blood transfusion and who have a Health Amendment Act Card. Hepatitis C sufferers therefore are the only people with a statutory entitlement to the Home Help service and this entitlement is set down in the Health (Amendment) Act 1996 as amended.

In practice, where the HSE provides a Home Help service, the service is mainly confined to older people and to families where a parent is ill or unable to cope.

In some cases, the HSE employs the home help directly. In other cases the HSE finances a service which is organised by a voluntary organisation. Sometimes people are asked to contribute towards the cost.

Page edited: 25 November 2013