How to get social care
Get help finding out where to start with finding care and support.
This section covers all you need to know to get social care support, from having a care needs assessment to arranging a direct payment.
If you appear to need care or support, you are legally entitled to a social care assessment, whether or not you access council services.
What is a care assessment?
The assessment just a conversation between you and someone from your local adult social care team. It is free and will look at things like:
- The best ways to keep you independent
- How you are coping at home
- Your emotional wellbeing
- Your diet
- Any health and medical treatments you need
Carers can also have an assessment of their needs and might be able to get support from the council to help them carry on caring. Anyone who cares for someone with social care needs should have a carer’s assessment.
Am I eligible for social care?
You might be eligible for social care if your assessment finds that you can’t do some of the following things without help:
- Deal with personal hygiene
- Manage toilet needs
- Dress yourself properly
- Move around your home safely
- Clean and tidy your home
- Maintain your relationships
- Keep up with work, training, education or volunteering
- Use public transport or other community services
- Care for your child
How do I get a social services assessment?
Your local Adult Social Care team is responsible for care needs assessments, so contact them to arrange your assessment. They might ask you to fill in a form online, or they might arrange a phone call or meeting with you.
Care assessments from hospital
If you are in hospital and you might need social care when you are discharged, you can be referred to the discharge team for a care needs assessment. The hospital assessment team could be made up of many different professionals.
What happens after my care assessment?
After you have had your social care assessment, you will be told whether you are eligible for support from the council.
If you are eligible. you will:
- Be offered a financial assessment
- Be told your personal budget
- Arrange a support plan with the council
If you are not eligible:
- You will be offered information and advice
- You may be signposted to other organisations that could help you
If you have already had a social care assessment and you aren’t eligible for support from the council, the useful contacts on this website could help you with your needs.
What is a care plan?
A care plan, which may also be called a support plan, is a way of you and the council setting out what support you need to meet your eligible needs.
What should be included in a care plan?
All care plans should include:
- Your eligible needs
- Your personal budget
- What services might help to meet your needs
- Other information on reducing your eligible needs and any needs identified that aren’t eligible for council support
You may keep hearing people talking about ‘personalisation’. This is because councils are trying to make sure the help they provide is right for each person who needs it. Personalisation means giving someone more control over what social care services they receive so that their needs can be better met. Personal budgets and direct payments are a way of making this easier.
What is a personal budget?
A personal budget is the amount of money that will it will cost to fund your care and support. You should be aware that you are not automatically entitled to receive the whole amount of the personal budget from your adult social care team. The amount you get will depend on your financial assessment. You might not receive any financial assistance from the council at all.
The personal budget must be spent in line with your care and support plan. You may also choose to pay for additional support on top of the budget.
How can I receive my personal budget?
If you are eligible for financial support from your council, there are various ways of receiving a personal budget for social care. A personal budget may be taken by an eligible person as:
- A direct payment, paid directly by you or, in some circumstances, a ‘suitable person’
- An account managed by the council in line with your wishes
- An account with a care or support provider, who you communicate with to arrange your support
- A mixture of the above
What can I spend my personal budget on?
You should be able to use your personal budget on anything that will help you with your assessed needs. This could be care in your home, a personal assistant, or to join a club or group.
You cannot use a personal budget to pay for care homes but some areas are piloting this. The council will tell you if this is an option in your area. The way you are offered a personal budget may depend on local policies in your area too.
You must not spend your personal budget on anything illegal or anything that does not meet your eligible needs.
Why should I have a direct payment?
Direct payments for care are designed to give you more flexibility and control over your support. With a direct payment, you can use less traditional ways of meeting your needs. For example, if your needs can be met through socialising but you don’t want to go to a day centre, you could use your direct payment to attend a group that is interesting to you.
You can get help with managing your direct payment if you need it. This is usually provided by private companies, which may be contracted by the council in some areas.
What is reablement?
Reablement, sometimes called enablement, is short-term support for people who need help to gain or relearn skills for day to day life. This might be help with washing, cooking, or dressing and might include learning new ways of doing things.
The service works by a reablement worker coming in every day to support you. The reablement worker won’t do things for you but will encourage and assist you to do them yourself. For example, a reablement worker could teach you to prepare a meal if there has been a change that means you need to cook for the first time.
Most reablement services are limited to 6 weeks. After this time, if you still need support, you will be assessed for more permanent care services.
Some areas may also offer a local mental health reablement service. This support with mental health will focus on coping techniques, promoting social inclusion, building self-esteem and goal setting. Mental health reablement can refer to other support services. You may be referred to these services following an assessment by a social care or health professional.
How do I get reablement?
If you think reablement would help you, speak to your local council. A lot of councils are choosing to offer reablement before they offer any formal care services, because so many people go on to need either no or much less care after a period of reablement services.
Intermediate care is quite similar to reablement. It supports people to recover and rehabilitate when they come out of hospital. You might also be offered intermediate care services to prevent you from going into hospital. The aim is to keep you as independent as possible.
Intermediate care can be provided as support in your own home or in a care home depending on local policy and your needs. It can be provided by care staff, occupational therapists and physiotherapists, with additional support provided by your local GP surgery, social workers and community nurses.
A personal health budget is the same as a personal budget, but it is to support your identified health and wellbeing needs, rather than social care needs. If you are eligible for one, your personal health budget will be planned and agreed between you and your local NHS team. The aim is to enable people with long-term conditions and disabilities to have greater choice, flexibility and control over the health care and support they receive.