Your guide to care and support

What social care services are available?

Many people’s first impression or thoughts of social care might be a residential care home. In fact, there’s a wide variety of social care services available and most people will be able to have care provided in their home.

The kind of social care support you can get depends largely on your needs. This means the type of condition you have, or the severity of your disability. For example, if you have trouble walking, you may simply require some equipment to help you remain mobile and independent. But if you develop a condition that seriously affects your mental capacity or your ability to move and look after yourself, you are likely to need a much wider range of social care services.

It is worth taking time to think about your specific needs and what you think you might need to help you achieve the best quality of life you can.

Care and support services might typically include:

Equipment to enhance your independence

The ability for you to remain independent sometimes hinges on small factors and tools, such as a jar gripper (to help you remove lids) or ways to raise your seat (so that you can get up more easily).

Equipment can also help with weightier issues, for example, hoists to help people with mobility problems get on and off chairs or toilets, or in and out of the bath or bed. The equipment you may be able to access could include monitoring devices that check whether you have left the house if you have a condition, such as dementia, that causes confusion and wandering. Find out more in alarms and telecare.

Help in your home

You may want to have someone who can come to your home and give you the support you need to live your life. This can include help with tasks such as getting dressed, help with using the toilet, washing, preparing and eating food, cleaning and laundry, getting out and about, and taking part in leisure and social activities. Find out more about homecare.

The Money Advice Service has a useful guide to employing a personal assistant.

If you are unable to manage in your home, even with help and assistance, you may need to consider whether you should move to a care or nursing home.

Your local authority will be able to provide you with information and advice on what services are available in your local area.

Community support and activities

Some social care services can be provided to help you continue to play an active role in your community and to get out and about and do the things you want to do. For example, you may want to work or to partake in religious or cultural events such as a festival or a sports match. Social care services may be able to support you in a wide range of ways to enable you to continue to do these things, for example a community transport service.

Your local authority will be able to provide you with information and advice on what services are available in your local area.  

Day centres

Day centres provide meals and an opportunity to socialise and do activities that might not be available at home and may provide respite for family carers.

Your local authority will be able to provide you with information and advice on what services are available in your local area.

Adaptations to your home

A common way that social care can support ill or disabled people to live independently at home is simple adaptations to the home. If you have difficulty living at home because of your condition, it is often a better option to improve your home than to move somewhere new.

For example, depending on your condition, you might be able to get lowered kitchen surfaces and storage, wider doorways to accommodate wheelchairs or walking frames, or improved flooring to prevent trips and falls.

Your local authority will be able to provide you with information and advice on what services are available in your local area.

Residential care

If living at home is no longer a realistic or practical option, you may want to consider residential care. There are many different types of ‘residential care’ – it may mean a permanent move into a care home for older people, or it could be a stay in a home for younger adults with disabilities, or a home for children. Residential care may be privately owned, or run by a charity or the local authority. The main types of residential options are:

Deciding on a long-term stay in residential care is a significant decision financially, practically and emotionally. You will need to think about your own preferences and decide what services will meet your needs now, as well as being flexible enough to take account of your future care needs. It is not always an easy decision. Independent advice can be important in helping you make the right decision, taking into account all the important factors.

Your local authority will be able to give you details of information services they commission locally. Many local and national charities will also be able to provide information and advice.

Financial support

If you are in need of social care you may be able to get information and advice on how to cover the additional living costs you may incur. For example, you may be able to access certain financial benefits for daily living, or be able to access funding from charities to cover the costs of expensive equipment. Your local authority should be able to talk you through some of these money matters as part of your social care assessment.

Find out more about how to fund care.

Information and advisory services, and advocacy

People who need care may have difficulty in being able to exert their rights, get the services they need and are entitled to, or simply not know or understand what is available to them. Information and advice are often a key part of any care assessment that your local authority undertakes. This information could go a long way to helping you get the support you need.

Charities are another great source of social care information – particularly those associated with conditions, such as the Alzheimer’s Society, Mind, or Scope, but also those related to different aspects of care, such as Carers UK or Independent Age.

Some people may find that an advocacy service can help them exert their rights, particularly if you have a disability and you believe you are treated unfairly. An advocacy service can act as a champion to ensure you get fair and equal treatment and access to services. Find out more about advocacy.

Support for carers

If you look after a person who is disabled, has a long-term health condition or is elderly and frail, you are a carer. Carers can get help with their caring role, and by enabling the person they care for to get the support they need, they can make their own life easier. For example, it’s important that carers have time for themselves, and one of the best ways to arrange breaks from caring is to ensure that you have had a carer’s assessment. This will help identify how substantial and demanding your caring is and how much support you are likely to need.

Other care support

You may also want to think about whether you need healthcare support if you have care needs relating to an ongoing health condition. If this is the case, then it is worth considering whether the NHS can offer any treatment, medical equipment or support that can help you live more fully with your condition. Read more about NHS continuing care.

If you are looking after a child with a disability, you should also consider the support that your child will need with their education. Again, talk to your local authority to discuss the types of support you might be able to get.

Page last reviewed: 15/01/2015

Next review due: 15/12/2017


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