Care needs

  • Around a quarter of men and a third of women needed help with activities like dressing, eating, bathing, toileting, called 'Activities of Daily Living' or ‘ADLs’, and activities such as shopping, making meals and doing the washing, called 'Instrumental Activities of Daily Living' or ‘IADLs’.  
  • The ADL for which help was needed most often was getting up and down the stairs.
  • The IADL for which help was needed most often was shopping for food and routine housework. 

Regional difference 

  • Need for help with ADLs and IADLs was greatest in the North West for both men and women; around one in three men and over two in five women needed help.
  • The lowest level of need was in the South East for both men and women; around one in five men and just under one in three women needed help.


  • Those in the lowest income group were more likely to need help than those in the two highest income groups. 

Informal and formal caring

  • The majority who received help in the last month were helped by an informal helper, rather than a formal one.
  • The most frequently mentioned informal helper for ADLs was a spouse or partner, with more men, 71%, receiving help from their spouse than women, 38%. 


  • 14% of men and 19% of women receiving direct payments, 8% and 7% had a personal budget, and 7% of men and women said that their local authority arranged their care.
  • More women, 61%, than men, 49%, reported paying all the costs for the formal care they received. Most of those receiving informal care said they did not pay for.