Last Updated: September 2016

Social care covers a wide range of services, both private and public, and can include anything from help getting out of bed and washing, through to care homes and drop-in centres.

If you or someone you care for needs additional support you should contact your local authority. See this Government note about the rules on local authority support.

This is because your local authority may pay for some or all of your support, if you meet the eligibility criteria and you have a limited funds to pay for the services.

It is likely that an assessment will be made to decide what level of support is needed and how much will be paid towards the cost.

The council must give you an needs assessment, if you feel you need support, regardless of you being eligible for help or not.

A needs assessment is a discussion with a trained person, either from the council, NHS or a private organisation that works with the council. They will probably be a social worker, a rehabilitation worker or another trained health worker. Assessments are carried out over the phone, online or face to face (usually in your home).

Anyone, providing the care, will be invited to attend. Family members or friends can attend too.

After the assessment, you may be told that you’re not eligible for help with care. You will get a letter explaining why and where you can go for further help. Carers UK can offer invaluable advice and support.

If you are eligible for help from the council, they will give the option to receive payments, for you to arrange and pay for your own care – this is known as ‘direct payments’. How much direct payments you get depends on what services you’re eligible for. This may include any extra costs you have to pay in order to get the service. Sometimes people have to make a contribution towards the cost their care. It will be your responsibility to arrange your own care, so you should think carefully before you make a decision about direct payments, but the council should explain to you in detail what you have to do. NHS Choices provides more information about direct payments

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