How to get social care services

This information applies to England and Wales.

Social care services help you if you need practical support if you are ill or disabled. Support can include:

To get support that meets your care needs as a disabled person, ask your local authority for a social care needs assessment.

Getting a social care needs assessment

Contact your local authority (GOV.UK)

Local authorities have to assess any adult who appears to have a need for care and support. An assessment should happen even if the local authority thinks that you are unlikely to be eligible for funding.

Local authority funding for care costs – do you qualify? (MoneyHelper)

An assessment is a chance to discuss with the local authority:

  • what is important to you
  • your needs
  • what you may need support with
  • what having those needs met would mean to you, often called outcomes
  • whether you meet the eligibility criteria for social care

Assessments can be in different formats. This depends on where you live and your level of need. For example, it may not be appropriate for someone with complex needs to have an assessment over the phone.

It’s common for local authorities to use some sort of ‘triage’ process to decide which type of assessment would be appropriate. Assessments can be:

  • face to face with a qualified assessor from the local authority, such as a social worker, care manager or another worker, in your home or hospital ward
  • a supported self-assessment, where you complete a form with the help of a council worker
  • a phone or online assessment
  • a joint assessment with professionals who support you

You can have someone to support you. This could be a partner, family member or friend.

If you need someone to support you in your assessment, the local authority can advise you where to find an independent advocate.

An advocate is an independent professional who will support you to express your views and wishes and will always be on your side.

Advocates for social care

Financial assessment following a care needs assessment

Local authorities cannot charge for some types of care and support. This includes:

  • intermediate care for up to 6 weeks after you leave hospital
  • community equipment, such as aids and minor adaptations costing up to £1,000

Local authorities can charge for care and support following needs assessments. Most people will have to pay something towards the cost.

Your local authority will carry out a financial assessment to decide how much you can afford to pay. This will decide your weekly contribution.

You can find your local authority's financial assessment policy on their website. They have to follow national guidelines but have some local flexibility.

Financial assessment for social care

Financial assessment: basic principles

If you have savings and capital over £23,250, you will have to pay the full cost of your care and support.

The assessment will not consider savings and capital below £14,250. But the assessment will assume you have £1 a week income for every £250 savings and capital between £14,250 and £23,250.

The local authority may consider your disability-related benefits as income. This could include:

  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA) care component
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP) daily living component
  • Attendance Allowance (AA)
  • Exceptionally Severe Disablement Allowance

The local authority should assess your ‘disability-related expenditure’ (DRE). This includes the extra costs necessary for your care and support.

The local authority must leave you with a minimum level of income.

The financial assessment looks at household expenses such as rent, mortgage and Council Tax.

The assessment considers extra costs you must pay because of your impairment or condition, such as:

  • a community alarm or other specialist equipment
  • extra heating costs
  • extra laundry costs or specialist clothing
  • additional transport costs
  • extra help with cleaning, gardening or shopping
  • extra food costs, such as ready meals if cooking is difficult

Make a list of these before your assessment. Explain why you need them.

Local authorities will decide what they consider to be disability-related expenses.

How to get the best out of your assessment

Ask for an assessment in person with a professional with specific training and understanding of your needs and condition.

You should receive a copy of the questions before the assessment.

Talk to the assessor about what should go in the form and check what they have written.

Prepare some supporting evidence. Ask your family, friends and your doctor or other professionals who know you to write about what might happen if you lose the care you need.

Check that the assessor has consulted all the people who can help to explain about your needs.

Anyone who provides you with unpaid care should be involved. They should have an assessment of their own needs as a carer. This may be friends or family, including young people. They may be entitled to support so that they can continue caring for you.

You need to be clear about whether you need more help from outside.

Some organisations may provide advice or support you at the assessment. A friend or family member could also support you.

If you need help putting your views across, ask the local authority for an independent advocate to support you.

Find your local council (GOV.UK)

If the local authority is saying they want to cut your support, ask them to keep providing your current care and support until the assessment.

Last reviewed by Scope on: 25/04/2024

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