Whats in this section?

Whats in this section?

Getting a social care assessment.

If you need care or support and don’t know where to start, a social care assessment is a great place to begin.
You have a legal entitlement to a social needs assessment, regardless of whether or not you access council services.

How to get your social care assessment

Your local Adult Social Care team is responsible for care needs assessments, so contact them to arrange your assessment. For example, they might ask you to fill in a form online or arrange a phone call or meeting with you.

Care assessments from the hospital

A Nurse or Doctor can refer you to the discharge team for a care needs assessment if you are in hospital and may need social care when discharged.

What happens after my care assessment?

After your social care assessment, the Adult Social Care representative will tell you whether you are eligible for support from the council.

Care assessments during the Coronavirus pandemic

Please note that the Coronavirus Act has made temporary changes to local authorities’ legal responsibilities. Changes made under this act include allowing for a less detailed care assessment.
Local authorities are also currently able to prioritise services for people with the most pressing needs.

Prioritising services can include temporarily reducing or delaying existing care packages and support to provide more urgent support to someone else, for example, self-isolating. Local authorities are also not currently required by law to review care and support plans.

For more information see the GOV.UK Guidance on Care Act Easements.

Our blog post from former family carer and dementia campaigner Beth Britton, Accessing social care for a relative or as a family carer, contains further information on obtaining an assessment, as well as how coronavirus has impacted the process.

What is a care assessment?

The assessment is 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 are eligible for 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 may be eligible for social care if your assessment finds 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

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
  • The team may signpost you to other organisations that could help you

If you have already had a social care assessment and aren’t eligible for support from the council, the support services and trades section on this website could help you work out where to start with getting help with your needs.

Making a care plan

What is a care plan?

A care plan (or support plan) is a way of you and the council setting out what support you need to meet your eligible needs.

What should a care plan include?

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

What are Personal budgets and direct payments

You may hear people talking about ‘personalisation’; this is due to councils trying to ensure the help they provide is suitable for each person who needs it.
Personalisation means giving someone more control over their social care services, so their needs are 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 it will cost to fund your care and support. You are not automatically entitled to receive the entirety 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.

Your personal budget must be spent in line with your care and support plan. You may also choose to pay for additional help 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 can be taken 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 use your personal budget on anything that will help you with your assessed needs. These services could include care in your home, a personal assistant, or joining a club or group.

At the moment, you cannot use a personal budget to pay for care homes, although 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 policies set by your local authority.

Why should I have a direct payment? 

Direct payments for care are designed to give you more flexibility and control over your support.
With direct payments, you can use less traditional ways of meeting your needs. For example, you could be using your direct payment to attend a local group that is interesting to you if your care needs can be met through socialising. A direct payment should be offered to you if you are eligible.


Advocates offer advice, support and information, can help you voice your concerns, and guide you through challenging times. You might consider using the services of an advocate if you feel unsure or concerned when faced with an important decision regarding your care.
Advocates are not there to tell you what to do or make decisions for you; instead, they help you express your views and make your own decisions.
Following contact with the local authority for an assessment, the council must arrange an advocate to support you should you need one.

For more information on what an advocate can do for you, see our page on Specialist Services.

Find advocacy services near me.


What is reablement?

Reablement, sometimes called enablement, is short-term support for people needing help to gain or relearn skills for day to day life. For example, Reablement might help with washing, cooking, or dressing and learning more straightforward ways of doing daily tasks.

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, they could teach you to prepare a meal if there’s been a change that means you need to cook for the first time.

Most reablement services are limited to 6 weeks. After six weeks, assuming 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. In addition, mental health reablement can refer to other support services. For example, you may be referred to these services following a social care or health professionals assessment.

How do I get reablement?

If you think reablement would help you, speak to your local council. Many councils now offer reablement before any formal care services to prevent the need for further care.

Intermediate care

Intermediate care is similar to reablement. It supports people to recover and rehabilitate when they come out of the hospital, preventing the need for readmittance.
Intermediate care can be support in your own home or a care home, depending on local policy and your needs. It can be provided by care staff, occupational therapists and physiotherapists, with additional support from your local GP surgery, social workers and community nurses.

Personal health budgets

A personal health budget is the same as a personal budget; however, its purpose is to support your identified health and wellbeing needs rather than social care needs.
A personal health budget aims to provide people with long-term conditions and disabilities greater choice, flexibility and control over the health care and support they receive.
Your personal health budget will be planned and agreed upon between you and your local NHS team, assuming you are eligible for one.

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