Dementia guide

Dementia, social services and the NHS

The NHS and local councils can help people with dementia to get information and services to help them.

If you are diagnosed with dementia, your future health and social care needs will need to be assessed, and a care plan created to set out how your needs will be met.

If you are eligible for help, your social and personal care will come from the social services department of your local authority or council, while the healthcare you need will be provided by the NHS.

You may have to pay for all or some of the help arranged by social services, depending on your income and savings, while the NHS care you receive will largely be free.

The services you get will depend on your own circumstances and what the local council or NHS is willing to pay for.

Social services and dementia

Social services can help with your personal care and day-to-day activities. For example, social services may offer to provide home care assistants to help you with washing and dressing, laundry services, meals on wheels, frozen food delivery, aids and adaptations, and help with claiming benefits.

An assessment is required to access the services you need. If you haven't already had an assessment by health and social services, contact your local authority or GP and ask for the social services department to carry out an assessment of your care and support needs. Once you've put in your request, a care manager will contact you or your family to carry out a telephone assessment, or to arrange an appointment to see you at home and assess your needs.

Read more about finding dementia help and support, and find your local authority.

NHS support for dementia

NHS help for dementia includes the treatment you receive from your GP and hospital. It can also include other types of healthcare such as community mental health nurses, physiotherapy, audiology (hearing care), optometry (eye tests), podiatry (foot care), speech and language therapy, and mobility specialists.

The NHS will also fund any nursing care you receive in a nursing home, although nursing home placement may not be completely free.

In some parts of the country, the NHS provides Admiral Nurses in partnership with the charity Dementia UK.

Admiral Nurses are NHS specialist dementia nurses who will visit you to give you practical guidance on accessing services as well as offering emotional support. Find out more about Admiral nurses and how they can help.

The NHS provides free continuing healthcare for people with dementia whose care needs relate mainly to their health. If you're awarded continuing healthcare, the NHS will provide and fund your entire care package – including your healthcare and social care – whether you live in a care home or in your own home. If you live in a care home, NHS continuing healthcare covers your residential costs and your food, as well as any nursing care.

To qualify for NHS continuing healthcare, you need to have an individual assessment, this may have already happened. To check whether you've had a continuing healthcare assessment, or to request one, contact your local clinical commissioning group (CCG) and ask for the NHS continuing healthcare co-ordinator.

Find out more information about CCGs.

The Department of Health has produced a booklet, called NHS continuing healthcare and NHS-funded nursing care (PDF, 113kb), for people who may need NHS continuing care, and their families and carers.

Tips for getting help and support for dementia

Getting help and support for dementia can be made difficult by the memory, functional, and emotional problems caused by dementia. And it can be complicated for carers to act on behalf of a person with dementia. These three tips may help:

  • Keep copies of forms and letters and a record of who you've seen. It will help you keep track of your progress and be useful for the health and social care professionals you meet.
  • Be prepared to be persistent to get what you want. Health and social care professionals may not always communicate with each other as well as they should, and you may find you have to explain your situation each time you meet a new professional.
  • Consider using an advocacy organisation. Advocacy organisations can help you access services and give you advice about your rights, particularly if you find meetings and talks with health and social care professionals quite intimidating. The Alzheimer's Society has a nationwide network of advocates.

Page last reviewed: 09/07/2015
Next review due: 09/07/2018