Social Care Services (also known as Community Care) help people who are in need of support due to illness, disability, old age or poverty. Social care services are available to everyone, regardless of background, and can also support the families or carers of people who receive social care.

The right to an assessment is one of the few clear cut rights in community care law. Once the assessment is completed the local authority has a legal duty to decide whether to provide services to meet your identified needs, and an absolute duty to meet ‘eligible’ needs.

Local authorities (councils) are responsible for providing community care services for those who need them. These council-funded social care services may be provided by ‘independent providers’ – firms or charities who specialise in providing social care services.

Under the Care Act 2014, local authorities will take on new functions. This is to make sure that people who live in their areas:

  • receive services that prevent their care needs from becoming more serious, or delay the impact of their needs;
  • can get the information and advice they need to make good decisions about care and support;
  • have a range of providers offering a choice of high quality, appropriate services.

The main provisions of the Care Act will now come in to force from April 2015. At the end of the year the Department of Health will issue a consultation on the funding reforms, such as the individual cap on care costs, due for implementation in 2020.

A series of 13 fact sheets  detailing the Care Act are available from GOV.UK

A guide to understanding what the changes may mean to you or to a relative is available at the following links:

The King’s Fund has pulled together a range of ‘bite-sized social care’ content to help explain social care in England including a series of short videos on what social care is, how it’s provided and paid for, and how it works with the NHS and other services available at this link.

There are a number of ways in which your situation can be brought to the attention of the local authority including:

  • Self-referral
  • Referral from a carer, friend or family member
  • Referral from a professional such as your GP, with your permission.

A template letter (MSWord) requesting adult social care assessment is availble at the following link:

Once the local authority is aware that you may have needs, it has a duty to carry out a "needs assessment "after which it will decide whether or not it should provide or arrange community care services for you under its eligibility criteria.

A template letter (MSWord) of appeal for Community Care is availble at the following link:

Having established that your identified needs meet the eligibility criteria the local authority then has legal duty to arrange or provide services for you to meet these needs.

It will usually carry out a financial assessment (means test) to establish how much you should contribute towards the cost of providing services to meet your assessed needs.

A care and support plan must always be discussed, agreed and written down. This documents the services you have been assessed as needing and how they will be arranged and will be reviewed on an on-going basis. If you have any concerns you can ask for a review assessment at any time.

For a full guide to Community Care and the services that are available go to the NHS web-site.

Alternatively a guide to assessment services and community care is available for download at independentage.org.

More information is about Support and Care is available at the following links:

To locate Care homes and Domiciliary care services  near to you follow this link.

Hospital Stays

It is probable that may be admitted to hospital at some point and this can be both stressful and unsettling. AgeUK have produced a downloadable guide explaing what to expect when going into hospital, while you’re there and when you’re discharged, available at this link.

Further information and Guides

For a guide to your Rights to Care and to complain go to ageuk.org.uk

For more information about benefits, see Benefits for people who are sick and disabled.

For more information about travel concessions, see Transport options for disabled people.

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