Community care services

What are community care services?

Public health services in your community are sometimes called community care services and are usually provided by the Health Service Executive (HSE). Community care services may also be provided by other organisations along with, or on behalf of, the HSE. The level of services that are available varies in different parts of the country.

Community care services can include public health nursing, home help, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, chiropody, day care and respite care (see below). Other community care services include social workers, speech therapists and dietitians.

Who can get community care services?

If you need to access community care services, your doctor (GP) or local health office can refer you. If you have a medical card, you can get community care services free of charge.

If you do not have a medical card, you may also be able to get community services, if available, but medical card holders may be prioritised.

How to apply

Ask your GP about community care services in your area or contact your Local Health Office.

If you don’t already have one, you can find a doctor (GP) in your area on the HSE website.

Types of community care services

The HSE must provide some services but not all services are available in every community. Many of the below services are organised through your local health office.

Public health nurses

Public health nurses work in your community and are usually based in your HSE local health centre. They provide nursing and medical care. The services provided by public health nurses vary from area to area and they act as a point of access for other community care services. Their services may vary from area to area.


Physiotherapy services are generally provided in your community. In many areas you may be placed on a waiting list. Home services are only available in a small number of cases.

Occupational therapists

Occupational therapists are employed by most Local Health Offices. . In many areas you may be placed on a waiting list.

Chiropody services

Chiropody services will help you if you have any problems with your feet. This is available in most community care areas.

Respite care

Respite care or temporary care may be based in the community or in a residential setting. Respite care can vary depending on where you live in the country.

Day centres

Day centres provide day activities, such as recreational facilities, as well as providing a combination of medical and vocational rehabilitation services. The availability of services varies in different areas. Some day centres are provided directly by the HSE and some are provided by other organisations on behalf of the HSE. Access to day centres is by referral and the eligibility conditions vary from area to area.

Community care services at home

Home Support Service

If you are aged 65 or over and need support to continue living at home or to return home following a hospital stay you may be able to get the Home Support Service. The Home Support Service can provide support with everyday tasks such as getting in and out of bed, bathing and dressing.

If you are younger than 65 and need support with an illness, you may also be able to get the home support service, for example if you have early onset dementia or a disability.

You can find more information about the Home Support Service from the HSE. (The Home Support Service used to be called the Home Help Service or Home Care Package Scheme).

Care Assistants

If you need personal care, your Local Health Office may arrange a Care Assistant as a back-up to the public health nursing service. The care assistant will help you with personal everyday tasks.

Personal Assistant Service

If you have a physical or sensory disability, you may be able to get Personal Assistant (PA) services to give you more independence. The Personal Assistant is employed by you and you decide how and when the support is provided. Contact your Local Health Office to find out about the availability of this service in your area.

Meals services

If you need help preparing meals, the meals services are provided by voluntary and statutory bodies and are sometimes called 'meals-on-wheels'. Access to meals services is generally by referral. You may be asked to contribute towards the cost of meals services. Eligibility conditions vary from area to area.


You may be able to get transport to day hospitals and day centres, outpatient departments and other hospital services provided by the HSE. These services depend on where you are in Ireland.

Page edited: 23 January 2023