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Free personal and nursing care

Free Personal and Nursing Care was introduced for people aged 65 and over in Scotland on 1 July 2002.

Before this people could be charged for personal care services provided in their own home and many residents in care homes had to fully fund their care from their own income and savings.

On 1 April 2019, free personal and/or nursing care was extended to people aged 64 and under.

What is personal and nursing care?

Personal care means anything done for you that's of a personal nature. This may include:

  • help with personal hygiene such as bathing, showering hair washing, shaving, oral hygiene and nail care
  • helping with managing continence such as toileting, catheter/stoma care, skin care, incontience laundry and bed changing
  • help with food and diet such as help with eating, special diets and food preparation
  • dealing with being immobile or substantially immobile
  • counselling and support such as psychological support, behaviour management and reminding devices
  • help with simple treatments  such as assistance with medications (like eye drops), application of creams and lotions, simple dressings and oxygen therapy
  • personal assistance such as help with dressing, surgical appliances, protheses, mechanical and manual aids, help getting in and out of bed and using a hoist.

Nursing care involves the knowledge and skills of a qualified nurse. It might include care like administering injections or managing pressure sores.

Who can get Free Personal Care?

Any adult who has been assessed by their local authority as having personal care needs and who requires these services to be put in place. 

It does not matter what income or capital assets the person you care for has or if they are married or in a civil partnership.

Who can get Free Nursing Care?

Any adult who has been assessed as having needs that require nursing care and who require these services to be put in place.

Arranging free personal/nursing care for the person you care for

To receive personal care services from the local authority for the person you care for, or to receive payments to allow you to choose who will provide the services to the person you care for, you should contact your local social work department to have their care needs assessed.  You can find out more about assessments by downloading our factsheet on Assessments and Adult Carer Support Plans by clicking here.

The types of personal care provided will vary according to assessed care needs.

Paying for other services

Whilst nursing and personal care services are free, some other services may be chargeable.  This may include:

  • Help with housework or laundry
  • Shopping
  • Services outwith your home such as day care centres or lunch clubs
  • Cost of supplying food or pre-prepared meals is chargeable, but support with preparing meals will be provided free

The council can arrange these services but they are subject to a financial assessment.

Living in a care home?

If the person you care for lives in a care home the local authority will assess whether they need these services. If the local authority agrees that they should receive personal care, their local authority will pay £177 per week (new rate from April 1, 2019) on your behalf directly to the care provider.  If they are assessed as needing nursing care services, the local authority will pay £80 per week (with effect from April 1, 2019) on your behalf directly to the care provider.

Attendance Allowance

If the person you care for receive free personal care at home they will continue to be eligible for attendance allowance, however, if they are in a care home and chose to receive free personal care payments they will no longer be eligible for attendance allowance after 28 days. They must inform the Department for Work and Pensions of your change in circumstances on 08457 123 456.

If they are only receive free nursing care payments your eligibility for benefits will not be affected. Further information on benefits is available:

More information

Read the free personal care blog here.

Watch the YouTube video here.


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