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Social care

What is social care?

Social care services 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. However, social care is subject to rules about your needs and ability. Services can also support the families or carers of people who receive social care. Find out more about your rights and entitlements to social care.

Examples of social care

Social care services could include having a personal assistant to help you around the house, structural changes to help you move around your house, or even an alarm system so that you can call for help if you have a fall.

Read more about how care services can help you live independently.

Local authorities (councils) are responsible for providing social care services for those who need them and are eligible for them. After needs and financial assessments, the local authority may agree to pay for some or all of the care and support you need. These council-funded social care services may be provided by ‘independent providers’ – firms or charities who specialise in providing social care services. Find out more about funding care services.

Most people have to fund all or part of their own care and support, local authorities must assess your care and support needs, and advise you on relevant local services.

Social care services can take many forms and you can get help from them while you live at home, out and about in the community, or even in a new place of residence such as a care home. To find out more, read choosing care and arranging care.

Disabled people

Even if you are not eligible for social care you may have a right to benefits and financial help or access to equipment and concessions on transport or the Blue Badge Scheme. Details on these, together with information on Disability Rights under the Equality Act 2010 and work-related topics, can be found on GOV.UK.

Older people and social care

Most local authorities will have a social care team devoted to older people. These teams can provide support that enables older people to remain living independently in their own home. They will also be able to guide you through the options available if you are no longer able to live at home independently, such as sheltered acccommodation or extra care housing.

Social care and carers

If you are looking after an ill, disabled or frail elderly relative or friend, you should recognise yourself as a carer. Carers can get a range of support from social care, and can be vital for helping arrange social care support for the person they care for. To find out more about how carers can help and get support call Carers Direct free on 0300 123 1053.

Read more about living with a disability with help from social care services.

You can find information on social care from the Social Care Institute for Excellence on the Find Me Good Care website.

Social care for children and young people

Council help for children

Each local authority will have people dealing specifically with social care for children. Use the GOV.UK website to find your local council and get advice about an assessment.

If you're worried about your child's general development or wellbeing and you think they need additional support, you might want to speak to your child’s GP or teacher first.

If you or your child needs more significant support, contact the children’s services team in your local authority for a needs assessment.

This assessment of your child’s needs will be used to determine if they need more specialised support. You should be involved in any decisions about your child, including what help will be provided to meet their needs.


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Page last reviewed: 28/03/2013

Next review due: 28/03/2015

Call Carers Direct on 0300 123 1053

Confidential information and advice for carers.

Lines are open 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday (except bank holidays), 11am to 4pm at weekends. Request a free call back or an interpreted call back in one of more than 170 languages including ربي, বাংলা, 中文, Français, ગુજરાતી, Polski, Português, ਪੰਜਾਬੀ, Soomaali, Español, Türkçe and .اردو.

You can talk to an adviser live online or send a query by email.

Find out more about the Carers Direct helpline.

Find and compare care services

In need of care?

Find out about community care assessments, which can help determine the kind of care and support you need if you're disabled

Social care rights

If you're in need of care, make sure you know what you're entitled to and how you're protected by the law

Disability and independence

Physical or mental disability doesn't mean you always have to rely on other people. Find out more about living an independent life