Your guide to care and support

Your guide to care and support


This guide is for people who have care and support needs, their carers and people who are planning for their future care needs.

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Advice for carers includes:

Below are some commonly asked questions about care and support.

What are care and support services?

Care and support services, also known as social care services, help people who are in need of practical support due to illness, disability, old age or a low income. 

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

Social care services are available to everyone, regardless of their 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.

How are care and support services funded?

Local authorities (councils) are responsible for providing social care services for those who need them and are eligible for them. After assessing your needs and finances, 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 that specialise in providing social care services. Find out more about funding care services.

Even though most people have to fund all or part of their own care and support, local authorities have a duty to assess everyone’s care and support needs, and advise you on relevant local services.

Social care services can take many forms – 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.

How can social care help disabled people?

Social care services can help and support people with disabilities to live more independently. Even if you are not eligible for free social care, you may still have a right to receive benefits and other financial help or access to equipment and concessions on transport or the Blue Badge Parking Scheme.

Details on these, together with information on disability rights under the Equality Act and in the workplace, can be found in this guide and on GOV.UK.

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

How can social care help older people?

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.

The local authority's team for older people will also be able to guide you through the options available if you are no longer able to live at home independently, for instance in sheltered accommodation, extra care housing, or care and nursing homes.

I look after someone. Can social care help me?

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. There are charities that support particular groups of carers, including sibling carers and young carers.

If you want to talk to someone about how to get support as a carer, call the Carers Direct helpline on 0300 123 1053.

How can social care help my child?

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

If you or your child need 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, including any special educational needs your child may have. You should be involved in any decisions about your child, including what help will be provided to meet their needs.

This guide also provides tips for caring for a disabled child and links to further help.

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 for children’s services.

How good are my local authority social services?

If you are receiving care, looking after someone who receives care, or just planning for your future care, it’s worth finding out how well your local authority’s social care services are performing.

You can check how care services in your area are performing against measures in the Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework (ASCOF).

This will let you find out how carers and people receiving local authority funded care and support in your area rate:

  • their quality of life 
  • their satisfaction with care services 
  • feeling safe

Alongside these are the levels of social services that the local authority offers, such as:

  • the number of people receiving direct payments 
  • the number of permanent admissions to care homes
  • delayed transfers of care from hospitals

You can also compare these with national and regional averages, to see whether your local authority is doing well, or could be performing better.

Page last reviewed: 15/01/2015

Next review due: 15/01/2017


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The 7 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Janeenough said on 13 September 2015

Last month I had surgery. It was a small procedure but in the recovery room I suffered from hypothermia.
I now have uncontrollable heat flushes. The perspiration literally runs down my face and sometimes I can't breath and have to lie down with a towel over my face.
I'm 60 years old and have finished my menopause. I never suffered like this when I was menopausal.
Is this something that will go away?

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Miss wahed afzaly said on 04 September 2015

Hi!Thank you so much for giving us such a nice service!I'm glad to see our GP care they always solves my problem..

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Polka15 said on 17 May 2015

Hello! I've been pretty upset by the quality / standards of my care in hospitals & rehabilitation units in England. I wonder if anyone else feels the same?

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XCourtney14X said on 06 April 2015

My 13 year old daughter had braces when she was in year 5,then they started to break off down to the food she kept she begged to have them off,she took them off at the end of year 7 an now she is in year 8.
could she have her second pair of braces for free down to I'm on benefits?

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Bidika said on 21 March 2015

Am happy to see social services and I got many things.

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Hache said on 16 March 2015

I'm sat in a&e with my father had lovely caring paramedics who took us to a&e. Arrived at a&e with my dad struggling to catch his breath coughing none stop with chest pain had one nurse taking bloods another connecting him up to do an ecg my dads got one hand which is having bloods taken and the other hand on his chest he starts coughing in agony and the nurse very sarcastically says put your hand in front of your mouth when coughing he's struggling to catch his breath she grabs his arm and moves it towards his mouth at this point he is having chest pains and struggling to breath can anyone tell me if this is acceptable thank you

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Shell68xxx said on 26 January 2015

My GP saved my life last week. I went to his surgery with a swollen leg and chest pain. He sent me straight to the hospital who diagnosed and DVT in my swollen leg and a pulmonary embolism in my right lung. They started me on anti coagulant therapy straight away. And im on the mend.

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Care and support services

Find services near you

Assessing your care and support needs

A care and support assessment is the best way for you to get help and advice from your local authority if you have difficulty looking after yourself

Caring for children with complex needs

A child might have complex needs from birth, or following an illness or injury. Find out what support is available

Your right to social care and support

Local authorities have a duty to assess anyone who appears to need care and support

What social care services are available?

Find out about the social care services that can help disabled people and other people who need them

Local authority funding for care

All about how your council may give you free or subsidised care services if you have a particular level of needs

Call the Carers Direct helpline

The Carers Direct helpline (0300 123 1053) offers confidential information and advice for carers